CHAMPAIGN — The University of Illinois announced Monday that it will be offering eight semesters of free tuition and fees to qualified in-state students whose family income is below $61,000 annually.
Called Illinois Commitment, it is part of an effort to keep talented students of modest means from seeking their college education outside the state. The offer is worth at least $15,000, depending on the student’s major.
The university’s action comes in the wake of legislation signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner aimed at persuading in-state students to choose Illinois colleges.
One measure sets aside $25 million for public universities to match and create a pool of merit-based scholarships, not based on financial need.
Education officials have long warned Illinois universities were suffering from lagging enrollment, crumbling infrastructure, exorbitant tuition and funding woes.
Data from 2016-17 shows about 45 percent of University of Illinois students take out loans, and the average debt upon graduation is $24,667. Officials said students whose family incomes are just above the $61,000 cutoff will continue to be eligible for considerable aid.