Oakton Community College officials say the impasse over the state budget will cost the school about $6.1 million or seven percent of its total budget for this school year.

The school’s president, Joianne Smith, said the school plans to reallocate financial resources to minimize the impact students.

She said the Oakton Educational Foundation has agreed to cover $350,000 for students dependent on state Monetary Award Program grants to fund their education.

“These are among our most financially needy students, and without the MAP funding, they would likely not be able to enroll in the spring,” Smith said in an email message. “I am grateful for the foundation’s commitment to our students and their generosity in responding to this emergency need.”

“This is an obvious need,” said Oakton Educational Foundation Board President Howard Singer. “Foundation Board members were unanimously in favor of this support and are committed to honoring the mission of Oakton, and, most importantly, these students.”

Additionally, the Oakton Student Success Fund provides limited monetary assistance for students who encounter an unforeseen emergency or catastrophic event that would otherwise prevent them from earning a degree or certificate.

“At a recent Illinois Council of Community College President’s meeting, we were told that we should plan on receiving no state funding for FY16 due to lower revenue projections for this year and court-mandated payments that account for 90 percent of the state’s revenue,” Smith said, indicating the $6.1 million budgetary impact includes $1.5 million from federal funds not dispersed due to the state’s inability to match funding for adult education and Perkins grants.

She said Oakton will limit controllable expenses such as travel and new equipment purchases and will limit hiring of vacant positions to only those critical to college operations. Additionally, a one-time request will be brought forth to the Oakton Board of Trustees regarding utilization of reserve funds to cover adult education and other operational costs.

“It is important to communicate with our students that Oakton is committed to their success and that it will continue to provide educational programming throughout the budget negotiations during this fiscal year,” Smith said.

Oakton, with campuses in Skokie and Des Plaines, draws about eight percent of its students from Evanston.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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