The NIU Student Association hosted the Jan. 25 meeting of the Illinois Board of Higher Education Student Advisory Committee.
The IBHE approves new units of instruction, public service and research including new academic administrative units for public colleges and universities in the state. The Student Advisory Committee is made up of student leaders and students from colleges, universities and community colleges across Illinois.
The day started with a discussion led by NIU President Doug Baker about how the IBHE-SAC makes a difference and for students serving on the committee to continue to be leaders at their universities. He also outlined financial issues facing higher education in Illinois and NIU’s institutional priorities.
During lunch, Illinois State Rep. Tom Demmer answered questions about how students can make an impact on legislators by representing their schools on lobby day and establishing close relationships with their representatives.
At the rest of the meeting the following was discussed in regard to student influence on higher education statewide:
- MAP (Monetary Award Program): The IBHE-SAC is pushing to have funding restored to the degree that it was in 2009. Certain students rely on MAP in order to continue their education. In a recent study of 10,000 MAP recipients conducted by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, 98 percent of MAP recipients agreed that receiving the grants was important in allowing them to enroll in college.
- Student Debt: The committee talked about ways to promote awareness of student debt and the pitfalls that happen to many students/parents who blindly sign contracts.
- Federal College Scorecard/U.S. Department of Education: The group is meeting with a representative of the U.S. Department of Education in March and will ask key questions regarding the department’s website, including how it is marketed.
“This past week’s meeting at NIU was by far one of the best meetings of the year,” said Adrian Miller, SIU-Carbondale student body president and IBHE student board member. “Our host NIU truly showed great hospitality, and the visit by President Baker was truly a great opportunity for IBHE-SAC to learn about higher education.”
“It’s great to hear what other schools are working on, and comparing and contrasting students’ issues and projects,” added Chloe Pooler, an NIU student senator. “It’s also nice to collaborate on common problems Illinois students face and come together to be one collective voice.”