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Simon introduces higher ed reforms 

 

The Southern Illinoisan
February 13, 2013

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon has unveiled what she calls “game-changing” reforms to make college affordable to more students in Illinois.

Simon of Carbondale talked about the reforms Tuesday at the Union League Club in Chicago, with a white paper she said addresses affordability and will increase college graduation rates.

“We need to make sure that our high school students are ready for college and complete certificates and degrees on time and with less debt,” Simon said. “The return on educational investment is proven for graduates seeking living-wage jobs and a state seeking high-quality employers. College is worth it.”

The white paper suggests reforms, such as dual degree programs that enable students to enroll simultaneously in community colleges and universities, allowing students to pay lower community college tuition rates and later transition seamlessly to a university.

Reverse transfer programs enable students who have transferred from community colleges to continue earning credits toward an associate degree when their university classes overlap with community college requirements.

Simon also suggested targeted income taxes waivers for students who earn bachelor’s or advanced degrees and choose to live and work in Illinois post-graduation.

The paper is the result of ideas heard during the lieutenant governor’s College Affordability Summits for students, teachers and administrators held in the fall at state public universities.