Pritzker proposes increased education spending in 2024 budget


Brian Cassella/ Chicago Tribune via AP

Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivers his combined budget and State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly on Feb. 15 at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.

On February 15, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced his 2024 budget proposal with increased spending for all education levels, ranging from early childhood to university level institutions.

“When we talk about early childhood and K-12 education, what we’re really talking about is preparing them for what comes next, which can be a post-secondary degree or a job. But unless we’re making it affordable to attend the institutions and programs that provide the necessary 21st century degrees and skills, we’re not fulfilling on our promise of cradle to career opportunity,” Pritzker said in the press release

The proposed budget also includes more funding for higher education including public institutions and community colleges. 

Among the sweeping proposals includes a $440 million increase for early childhood programs and a more than $350 million increase for K-12 schools.

Pritzker’s budget seeks to add over $22 million in Illinois community college investments, such as dual-credit and noncredit programs, English language services, curriculum development supporting trades and technology upgrades. 

According to DePaul’s division of enrollment management, the university enrolled 1,085 transfer students in 2019, 65% of which came from Illinois community colleges. 

While the money going to help increase school operating costs currently does not appear to include private institutions, such as DePaul, some students will still be impacted should this budget pass. 

“The reason why I went [to DePaul] initially was because of scholarships,” junior and animation major Grace Kuhn said. “Unfortunately in [regard] to art programs, there aren’t exactly many affordable ones.”

DePaul is an approved school for students who receive MAP grants, as well as students who receive the Minority Teacher Scholarship. Should this budget be passed, students who receive them may see their scholarships increase, or more students may have access to scholarships. 

The budget proposal allocates a $100 million (16%) increase for the Monetary Award Program (MAP). This program provides grants for eligible Illinois residents who demonstrate financial need. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) estimates that more than 40% of public university students at or below the median income level and more than 95% of community college students of the same demographic would have their tuition and fees fully  covered through a combination of MAP and pell grant funding, according to Pritzker’s budget proposal.

Pritzker proposed a $2.8 million increase for the Minority Teacher Scholarship, more than doubling the number of students covered. The program provides scholarships to students who commit to teaching in minority schools in Illinois. 

A $100 million (7%) increase in funding was proposed for Illinois public universities and community colleges for operating costs. However, this proposal does not currently indicate whether the increases will apply to private institutions, such as DePaul. 

With the U.S. National Student debt totaling $1.757 trillion, for some students, cost is more important than ever. Each year, DePaul gives out $52 million in new freshman scholarships and an additional $5 million for transfer scholarships with even more for need-based scholarships. 

“[Money] was definitely a reason that I [chose] DePaul,” sophomore Madi Lambert said. “[Kentucky] gives you money for your grades to go to community colleges and things like that, but even though I had pretty good grades, I still got more money out of state [at DePaul] than in-state.” 

The average federal student loan debt balance is $35,574, and there are more than 43 million people who have student loan debt.  

“If it were up to me, [community college is] completely what I would do,” Kuhn said. 

Free education from early childhood through college was a key part of Pritzker’s second inaugural address on Jan. 9.  

“It’s [our] obligation to make college more affordable by removing financial barriers,”Pritzker said in his inaugural address. “That’s why we need to bring down the cost of higher education. Since I took office, we’ve increased scholarships by more than 50%. Now, let’s focus on making tuition free for every working- class family in Illinois.”  

“For me, the scholarship I got [at DePaul] was for academics, and that was more than any [other schools],” junior Eva Walsh said. 

The current proposal will be debated by the state general assembly and needs to be approved by June 30, 2023.