HB 403 threatens tuition waivers for children of university employees

One draw for University employees is the many benefits and perks that come with working at a state university, including the 50 percent tuition waivers available to their children.

However, this benefit is being threatened by House Bill 403, which was proposed by State Rep. Jack Franks, D-63, in the General Assembly on Jan. 28.

State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-103, held a press conference on Wednesday in opposition to Frank’s bill. Ammons invited several people affected by the bill to speak about their experiences, generating a discussion about the benefits and costs of the tuition waivers.

If the bill is passed, employees who have worked for state universities for seven or more years will no longer receive the partial tuition waivers currently available for their children.

“It is important for us to work together in the coming days, regardless of where you work in the University or what your status may be,” Ammons said. “We will have to work together to prevent some of the things we see coming . . . that will not only hurt our ability to deliver services to the students — but to the state, to the world.”

Maeve Reilly, director of communications at the Beckman Institute, has worked at the University for 20 years. She said the waivers are beneficial for the state of Illinois because more children will have the means to receive an education here at the University, which will also increase their likelihood of staying in Illinois after graduation.

During the press conference, attendees said there are other ways the state can reduce its deficit without cutting tuition waivers, which would save the state an estimated $10 million per year.

Ciara Reilly, Maeve Reilly’s daughter and junior in LAS, said she is grateful for her partial tuition waiver.

“I know how hard my parents had to work for the University in order for me to receive this,” Reilly said. “If the waiver didn’t exist, I probably would’ve looked at other schools in other states, and I’d like to think that my being a student here and being involved with these various organizations and organizations within the community not only benefits me, but benefits other students.”

Reilly said she plans to continue her education in graduate school and accredits the tuition waivers for her ability to consider furthering her education.

Some worry the passage of the bill could deter people from wanting to work at the University, while others say it could drive families and students out of the state altogether.

“One of the things that led me to work at this University was the knowledge that my children could have an affordable avenue for their education,” said Molly McLaughlin, office support specialist at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. “If it is taken away, combined with the pension prices we are also facing, my family will most likely join the other 95,000 who have left the state this year.”

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