A controversial scholarship program that provides full tuition waivers for each State Representative to award to students in their home legislative districts has been abolished.
Governor Pat Quinn, at a ceremony at the Thompson Center in Chicago on Wednesday, signed House Bill 3810 into law. “Most legislators have opted out of the program in recent years, but it is nice to know that this scandal-plagued program is officially ending,” said State Rep. Sid Mathias (R-Arlington Heights), a co-sponsor of the bill. “The program did not have guidelines in place that prohibited some legislators from handing out the waivers to political allies or donors, and unfortunately some lawmakers did use the waivers in inappropriate ways.”
Through the program, each legislator had access to eight waivers each year. The waivers allowed students to attend the state university of their choice tuition-free for one year.
According to Mathias, in 2011, 1,327 tuition waivers were awarded in Illinois, costing the State $13,508,800. “This $13.5 million is an unfunded mandate on State universities, where the cost is then passed on to other students paying tuition,” he said.
In addition to abolishing the General Assembly Scholarship Program, House Bill 3810 creates the Tuition and Fee Waiver Task Force to evaluate tuition and fee waiver programs offered by State universities.