Illinois universities get 1st state aid in 7 months 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois has tapped nearly $700 million in existing funds to make the first payment to colleges and universities they’ve received in seven months. Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced the payment Thursday. It includes $327 million for the needs-based Monetary Award Program for 110,000 college students for the past school year. The Democrat made the announcement in Charleston, presenting Eastern Illinois University President David Glassman with a payment of nearly $6 million. WIU President Jack Thomas told a crowd in the Quad Cities yesterday that almost nothing could be as bad as the past two years. Thomas said his school has been through some “tough times” but has stayed positive. Senate Education Committee Chairman Pat McGuire of Joliet applauded the move. McGuire has been particularly concerned with MAP funding during the standoff.