Illinois higher education | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois higher education

More Illinois students now qualify for college financial aid. State government will now offer money to students who might have been disqualified from getting federal help.


Four years ago, Chris Miner decided to apply to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Then 40-years-old, Miner was encouraged to apply by a counselor at the community college he attended. He was told he was a shoo-in.

He sat down at his computer and started the application. But then Miner faced this question: Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

“I just sat there and stared at the screen for like 10 minutes,” he said. “It was like everything, every advancement I had made so far might be over with, maybe this is the end of the ride.”

The columns at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
St. Louis Public Radio file photo

State higher education funding per full time student has dropped more than 26 percent in Missouri and increased almost 50 percent in Illinois over the past five years, according to data compiled by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

The stark contrast between the states is due in part to an almost 29 percent variance in enrollment trends; Missouri enrollment has gone up while Illinois enrollment has gone down.

But Illinois Higher Education Director James Applegate said his state has also drastically increased its higher education funding in order to pay pension shortfalls.