NIU plans to receive $26.4M in state funds

By Alexander Chettiath

NIU expects to receive most of the $26.4 million in state funding by the start of May and the rest in June, said Alan Phillips, vice president for Administration and Finance.

The $26.4 million is part of a bill that would provide state funding to four-year universities, community colleges and the Monetary Award Program. NIU will receive $9.7 million for MAP funding. The bill was signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday.

NIU received $91 million from the state for Fiscal Year 2015 but did not receive funds for FY 2016 because of a lack of agreement between Rauner and legislators on a finalized budget.

Phillips said NIU will receive the funds within the next few days and the funds will be mostly used for payroll. NIU has not discussed layoffs and leaves of absence.

“Most of the state funding goes to payroll so as we accrue payroll expenses we then send a voucher to the state which is basically the same as an invoice — we’re billing the state,” Phillips said. “Obviously we’ve spent more than $26.4 million in payroll spending, so as soon as we knew what the amount was, we started sending vouchers to the state.”

NIU originally credited MAP grants for about 5,700 students amounting to $20 million for fall 2015 and spring 2016. The bill will only fund one semester.

NIU does not have a plan yet on how MAP students will repay NIU for the remaining balance. NIU will make a plan after the current General Assembly session ends May 31, and will depend on the FY 2017 budget, Phillips said.

“The General Assembly and the governor have indicated that this is not all the funding that we are going to receive for [FY 2016] because it is only 30 percent and you still have universities that will struggle with only 30 percent of state funding,” Phillips said.

The passing of this bill came two days before the disclosure of a new Executive Budget Committee that would oversee the creation, implementation and management of a multi-year budget for NIU, due to the ten-month budget impasse.

The Executive Budget Committee would create a multi-year budget timeline and process that would link NIU’s mission with its budget.