SIU looking into sell land for scholarship funding - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

SIU looking into sell land for scholarship funding

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CARBONDALE -- Illinois will soon enter its ninth month without a state budget, and Illinois colleges and universities are feeling the effects.

SIU plans to expand scholarships without any help from the state. The school wants to sell university-owned land and use the money to provide more scholarships to students.

SIU has one problem: it can't legally do that, at least for now.

SIU Junior Sam Supan says she couldn't imagine working three jobs to pay for college, like some of her classmates.

"It's a lot just doing classes. I'm in 18 credits right now so it would be really difficult to do more than just the job I have right now," explained Supan.

Supan has a scholarship paying for her tuition at SIU.

"It just kind of sealed the deal because I wouldn't have to be in debt or take out loans," added Supan.

SIU president Randy Dunn wants to see more students afforded the same opportunity, even with the SIU system  facing a $100 million cut in funding from the state.

That's why he and board of trustee members reached out to Illinois State Senator Gary Forby.

"They said they had a lot of surplus property they've used and now they don't have a use for it," explained Forby.

Forby introduced Senate Bill 2097 last week, which would allow profits to help students instead of the state.

Under the state property control act, SIU would be required to turn over any surplus land to the state.

Bill 2097 bypasses that allowing the school to use profits from sold land and place them in scholarship funds.

Forby says the bill is a win win for both sides of the aisle.

"They're really doing what the governor wants them to do. He wants them to cut back and do something to help themselves. So I can see this will be a help, and I haven't talked to the governor about the bill, but I don't see any problem for him signing a bill like this," added Forby.

University officials hope scholarship money from sold land will bring more students like Supan to SIU.

"Without that money from scholarships and everything, I know it's really hard for them to get by," added Supan.

 If Senate Bill 2097 passes and SIU can sell the land, the university board of trustees would need a majority vote to approve it.

A spokesperson for Governor Rauner said the governor "would review Senator Forby's legislation closely."

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