SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – After over four years of work, state Rep. Elizabeth “Lisa” Hernandez, D-Cicero, passed legislation through both chambers that would ensure state financial aid is available to all Illinois students regardless of race, immigration status or gender identity.
“Higher education is key to move up the socioeconomic ladder and it’s unacceptable that some of our young people are being locked out of state financial aid,” Hernandez said. “The RISE Act will address this injustice and ensure that our state invests in all of its young people.”
By working with a diverse coalition of legislators, advocates, students, and university faculty, Hernandez passed House Bill 2691, which expands access to state aid by increasing the credit hour limit in place that disproportionately locks students of color from state aid. In 2018, 1,700 students who applied for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant were denied because they had surpassed the current credit hour limit. Often times, students who come from inadequately funded schools have to take additional coursework to catchup to their peers, which is why they reach the credit hour threshold much quicker.
Hernandez’s legislation also allows Illinois students who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, such as DACA recipients, to be eligible for state financial aid, as well as transgender students who do not register for selective service and as result are ineligible for federal aid. The measure now awaits Governor Pritzker’s consideration.
“This legislation is about equity for minority and marginalized young people,” Hernandez said. “I am grateful for the collaboration and support from the universities, advocates, students, and diverse coalition of legislators that it took to make this possible. I urge Governor Pritzker to move swiftly and sign this crucial measure into law.”