JWCC leaders excited to see states proposed investment in higher education

Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 5:32 AM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - Leaders at Illinois colleges are reacting to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed budget.

Those at John Wood Community College said they’re excited to see an increased investment in higher education.

President Bryan Renfro said the budget proposal would give community colleges more money to cover their operating expenses.

He said right now, state funding for community colleges hovers around 13% to 15%. If passed by state lawmakers, Renfro said that increase would be around seven percent.

He said that could allow them to not pass operating costs onto students but Renfro said that increase isn’t the only item in the proposed budget he’s excited about.

“There are several pots of money that target specific industries, manufacturing for example would be one of them and then community colleges would make application for funds to assist developing programs or increasing the capacity to deliver programs, for that example, in manufacturing, to help offset some of the costs, again, so that the cost doesn’t have to be passed on,” Renfro said.

He said this would mean it could help expand classes and cover costs of materials and resources for their Workforce Development Center. He said it can then help put out more workers to help provide workers for the local economy.

There’s also proposed money that would benefit students as well.

JWCC officials stated one of the proposed funding increases is for the Monetary Award Program or MAP grants.

Dean of Records, Registrar, and Financial Aid Melanie Lechtenberg said those are for students who are in need of financial assistance.

She said just over 575 students, both part-time and full-time, qualified for these funds this year. She said more money being put towards these funds could benefit students.

“We have a lot of students that are low-income students that this will benefit them to help cover their base cost and then if they have other scholarships if that can in turn go and help them with living expense but it really opens up opportunities to cover those costs and to help them attend school,” Lechtenberg said.

Lechtenberg said a lot of students are now wondering where they want to be work-wise and in education. She said this is great timing for this proposal, as it can support students who are wanting to pursue those endeavors.

The budget still needs to be approved by the legislature.

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