(The Center Square) – The Illinois Board of Higher Education wants more funding at a time when enrollment in state public colleges and universities has declined.
The board has proposed a fiscal year 2024 budget of $2.5 billion, a 7.7% increase for general funds, excluding pension costs, despite a 0.5% decline in enrollment.
A spokesperson for the board did not respond to questions about the budget increase, enrollment decline or how the board’s budget relates to student enrollment.
Overall, fall 2022 enrollment at Illinois public universities decreased by 0.5% from the previous fall, according to the most recent board report. Total headcount for the state’s universities stood at 183,762 in fall 2022, down from 184,748 the previous fall. While fall 2022 enrollment figures remain above fall 2018 enrollment of 182,547. That includes both graduate and undergraduate students.
The board is asking lawmakers for a 7.7% or $180 million increase for general funds, excluding the State University Retirement System, according to the proposal. The State University Retirement System is the pension system for retired public university employees.
The board’s budget recommendation includes $86.3 million – a 7.5% increase – in general operating funding for public universities. That money will be distributed based on equity, the board said, with “more funds going to institutions that serve higher percentages and numbers of low-income students.”
Board members introduced their 2024 budget recommendation in January. They said the proposal was designed to achieve specific equity, sustainability and growth goals.
“Our budget and the $180 million increase builds on the historic budget for the fiscal year 2023,” Illinois Board of Higher Education Executive Director Ginger Ostro said in January. “There is also tremendous work underway to close equity gaps in enrollment, persistence and completion for Black, Latinx, low income and rural students.”