Legislation aimed at improving college access and affordability for undocumented Illinoisans is moving forward in the state legislature.
The "Student Access Bill," SB 2196, cleared the Senate Higher Education Committee Tuesday and now heads to the full chamber for consideration. The 7-3 committee vote fell along party lines.
The Democrat-backed measure would let undocumented Illinois students who meet certain requirements compete for state-funded financial aid and scholarship opportunities at public, four-year universities.
Currently, undocumented immigrants in Illinois are ineligible for public university scholarships, grants, waivers and other forms of financial assistance. They also cannot obtain federal student aid.
Under the legislation, undocumented Illinois students cannot compete for taxpayer-funded Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants. The need-based grant program helps low-income Illinois students pay for tuition at colleges and universities in the state.
Supporters of the Student Access Bill say the legislation is "revenue-neutral" because it does not increase state aid for scholarships and grants.
Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) voted against the Student Access Bill in committee. He expressed concern that the bill would result in fiercer competition among students for already "scarce resources."
Check out Progress Illinois' coverage of the Student Access Bill here.