- Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2016 05:56 PM
Noting that a diverse and educated population provides a boost to Illinois’ economy, Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) voted Wednesday to allow the state to offer financial aid to some undocumented college students who’ve come to Illinois in search of opportunity.
Senate Bill 2196 would allow undocumented students who meet the conditions necessary to be recognized as Illinois residents for tuition purposes to be eligible for state-based financial aid at Illinois’ four-year public universities.
“When people cross Illinois’ state lines and choose to make their home here, our lives, our culture and our economy improve – whether they come from Kenosha or St. Louis, Paducah or Gary, the East Coast or the West Coast, Mexico, South America, Poland, Asia or Africa,” Biss said.
“If we want to benefit from the economic growth that comes with immigration, we have to make educational opportunities available for those who cross our borders. I think this bill is an important statement about who we are as a people in Illinois and who we believe ourselves to be. It’s also a sensible economic step that will help our future substantially.”
Senate Bill 2196, also called the “Student Access Bill,” passed in the Senate and will move to the House for consideration. Senator Iris Y. Martinez of Chicago is the primary sponsor; Biss is a co-sponsor.
The measure does not require the state to increase spending for higher education or create a new scholarship program. It simply gives public universities the authority to offer financial aid to more students.
Should it become law, an estimated 1,500 students from Illinois’ four-year public universities would be eligible for new scholarship opportunities.
Senate Bill 2196 is an initiative of the University of Illinois in conjunction with the Latino Policy Forum. Former Gov. Jim Edgar, other elected officials, public universities, business and civic leaders, faith-based leaders, labor unions and non-profit organizations back the legislation.