A press release from State Rep. Mike Tryon:
Tryon Co-Sponsors Legislation to End Scholarship Program
SPRINGFIELD – A controversial scholarship program that provides full tuition waivers for each State Representative to award to students in their home legislative districts will officially end this year.
State Rep. Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake), a co-sponsor of the bill, said that while he has seen students from District 64 benefit tremendously from the program, the time has come to discontinue it.
“In this difficult budget year, every penny counts,” he said.
“As we face tough decisions regarding funding for all levels of education, it is not appropriate for us to force our State universities to absorb these tuition waivers.”
Through the program, students are awarded full tuition waivers to use at the State school of their choice.
According to Tryon, the system did not have rigid guidelines that prohibited some legislators from handing out the waivers to political allies or donors.
In his office, Tryon said he has always been completely removed from the process, and an independent committee always reviewed the applications and determined the recipients.
“The only time I would see the list of recipients would be after the process was complete so I could ensure that the waivers were spread evenly between the towns I represent.”
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.
“In times like these, unfunded mandates and extra costs to our universities need to be eliminated,” Tryon said. “It was a difficult vote because I know that in some cases the waiver made a difference between a child going to college or not going to college.”
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.
“The creation of the task force was a key selling point for me, because I believe there still exists a serious issue where children of very high-paid university employees are attending college tuition-free,” Tryon said.
“I believe the waivers need to be either eliminated across the board, or at a minimum that those who continue to receive them should have the amount of the waiver treated as taxable income.”
The bill has been sent to the Governor for his signature.
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Names of those who will receive Tryon’s last legislative scholarships follow:
- Rosa Wu, Jacobs H.S.
- Brittany Daley, Jacobs H.S.
- Brandon Bencko, Huntley H.S.
- Stephanie Konecki, Crystal Lake Central H.S.
- Helen Bengtson, Prairie Ridge H.S.
- Bodecker DellaMaria, already in college, from CL
- Bridgette Martinak, already in college, from Algonquin
- Riley Quinlan, already in college, from Algonquin