CHAMPAIGN – Illinois is creating a new merit-based scholarship aimed at getting more students to attend in-state colleges and universities.
The AIM HIGH grant pilot program will provide at least $50 million in financial aid. The state is providing $25 million in the current budget year. Universities are matching that amount.
Lawmakers approved the program earlier this year with nearly unanimous support. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the measure into law Tuesday during a stop in Champaign.
Rauner's office said undergraduate enrollment at Illinois' public universities fell more than 8 percent, or by more than 5,000 students, between 2011 and 2016. Enrollment at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb declined more rapidly during that period, falling almost 4,000 students, more than 17 percent.
Enrollment at NIU was about 18,000 at the start of the 2017 fall semester, down about 5 percent year over year, and a school official predicted that trend would continue into this year as larger classes graduate.
Rauner said the scholarship will help Illinois colleges compete with out-of-state institutions that offer more financial aid.
Annual in-state tuition, fees and room and board for a full-time, incoming freshman at NIU this year is about $22,000, not including books or other expenses. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign estimates annual in-state tuition, fees and room and board cost at about $27,300 for incoming freshmen. Books, supplies and expenses push it past $31,000.
• The Associated Press contributed to this story.