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Legislature passes college aid bill

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State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) was among lawmakers voting Thursday to approve a bill restoring funding for a state college tuition aid program.

Students who rely on state support to pay for college deserve the tuition assistance they were promised so they can continue their education while the state’s budget impasse drags on, Biss said in a statement.

Senate Bill 2043 provides more than $397 million for the Illinois Monetary Assistance Program, as well as other spending for higher education.

“The current situation is an outrage, and I am very disappointed that we continue to vote on piecemeal steps rather than a comprehensive, sustainable and fair solution to our fiscal problems,” Biss said.

“However, given the choice between taking this one step today or instead continuing to unnecessarily punish low-income college students, passage of this bill was the far better option.”

The bill increases the tuition assistance program funding by $32 million. The program helped about 128,000 low-income college students last year and the increase is expected to aid 15,000 more.

The bill also rovides more than $260 million for operations at community colleges throughout the state, nearly $14 million to support operations at the City Colleges of Chicago and $49.8 million for statewide career and technical education and GED programs.

The legislation now has passed both houses of the legislature and goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.

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