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Higher education is an investment, not just a cost. By not adequately funding higher education in Illinois, we are eating our seed corn.

Higher education benefits society in numerous ways. It serves as an economic engine and an incubator of innovations in technology, health care and agriculture. Overall, college graduates enjoy better health, commit fewer crimes, have lower unemployment and poverty rates, earn higher wages, and thus pay more taxes; these benefit all of our society, not just the graduates themselves.

A college education enhances cultural appreciation and understanding of others, which makes people more capable of working in a diverse modern workforce and participating in a democracy and in civic life.

Unfortunately, higher education in Illinois faces a crisis: half of all college-bound Illinois high school graduates attend college out of state. This leads to a brain drain and other negative consequences: students earning college degrees out of state are more likely to work and raise families out of state after graduation.

Moreover, today’s students should not be saddled with a crushing debt that older Illinois citizens did not have. Our schools need to be able to offer financial packages that competitively match out-of-state offers.

In previous decades, higher education was supported by the state to a greater extent. Those of us on the Faculty Advisory Council to the Illinois Board of Higher Education believe the current generation should have this same opportunity. It is in the state’s best interest to make a significant financial investment in higher education.

Paul Bialek