Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

University of Illinois Program to Help Low-Income Students

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

University of Illinois Program to Help Low-Income Students

Article excerpt

CHAMPAIGN, ILL.

Students from poverty-stricken families aspiring to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) may be able to do so debt free because of a new plan announced in early December.

The Illinois Promise program, which will be privately financed, is aimed at students for whom established financial aid programs fail to provide enough help to afford four years of college, said UIUC interim chancellor Richard Herman.

"As a public university, we must ensure that talented students of all academic backgrounds have access to our programs," Herman said. "If the face of our campus does not reflect our society, we cannot fulfill our obligation to create the leaders of future generations."

The program will be open to incoming freshmen students from Illinois families with income at or below the federal poverty level--currently $22,030 for a family of five. Illinois Promise will provide aid in addition to state and federal programs to pay for tuition, fees, books and housing throughout a qualifying student's college career.

"The idea is to decrease the loan burden," Herman said.

Money for Illinois Promise will come from individuals and corporations, Herman said. It would fill the gap between what established financial assistance provides, which often in such cases is enough to cover tuition, and the actual cost to go to school.

"We feel that students who would qualify for this program are particularly vulnerable to dropping out for financial reasons," Herman said. …

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