DeKalb, IL... State Representative Bob Pritchard and State Treasurer Michael Frerichs took part in a 16 person round-table discussion on college affordability at NIU on Monday. The treasurer was at NIU to talk with students, administrators, and community members about college costs and his 529 savings plan.
The treasurer spoke at length about Monetary Award Program (MAP) funding, state aid to low income college students. MAP is a portion of the budget that is in jeopardy without a budget. Representative Pritchard acknowledged that state policy and spending regarding higher education was partly to blame for the skyrocketing costs of tuition over the past years. He supports increasing spending on MAP, but the piecemeal approach to budgeting is setting the state on a dangerous path towards gross overspending.
“Unfortunately, the bill that would fund MAP ... is like so many other bills,” Pritchard said. “It’s looking at one or two programs without any recognition of how that fits into the overall budget.”
Rep. Pritchard admitted the state needs to do more to ensure better access to higher education for everyone, but he also spoke about how important it is that parents make an effort to save money for college early. The state operates tax free 529 saving plans through the treasurer's office. "Even small investments per year in a savings plan sends a strong message to students that college is possible." He continued.
Read more about the discussion here.