CHAMPAIGN- A survey released by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) illustrates a real picture of the state budget impasse’s impact on college students.

campuswalkingState Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is outraged that some state community colleges and universities are requiring students to pay back their need-based state tuition assistance to continue their education and  receive their transcripts.

“The goal of MAP grants is to alleviate financial need to give students an opportunity to succeed at our state universities and community colleges,” Bennett said. “However, now that the state is not meeting their obligation, we are taking away opportunities from Illinois students and hindering their ability to succeed.”

Students were encouraged to submit a written comment along with their survey results. A student responded, “I had to take a year off because I couldn't afford school anymore. So I’m working three jobs to pay back my school to get my transcripts. I can't afford to go to any university without the MAP grant. I cried myself to sleep because I had to see everyone leave for school.”

Bennett introduced Senate Bill 1841 which would prohibit a public university of community college from denying a student from registering for classes, or refusing to issue a student transcript if the student was awarded a MAP grant.

He didn’t move forward with this initiative since the General Assembly passed a bipartisan stopgap measure last spring to help continue MAP grant funding at the state’s higher education institutions.

“Our students’ opportunities shouldn’t be delayed while the state works toward a bipartisan compromise,” Bennett said. “However, it is now evident that as the budget impasse lingers the necessity for this precaution to prevent harm to students at our state universities and community colleges grows. We need to return to Springfield to stop problems like this.”

Here are some concerning findings from ISAC’s survey:

•    Forty-six percent reported they took out student loans, or more student loans, to cover the lack of MAP funding
•    Twenty-three percent indicated they took fewer credits this term because they couldn’t afford full tuition without MAP funding
•    Seven percent indicated they transferred to a less expensive school in state or out-of- state because they could not afford tuition without MAP funding.

The General Assembly will reconvene in January. Bennett hopes legislative leaders will work together to develop a complete and balanced state budget to end the impasse.

“This is a simple step to help us engage more people and give them an opportunity to exercise their fundamental rights.” –State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

053116CM1192SPRINGFIELD- Currently there are more than 2 million Illinoisans who are eligible to vote, but aren’t registered.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) voted today to change that.

Bennett sponsored Senate Bill 250, which would automatically register eligible citizens when they renew their drivers’ license or state ID.  Today, the Illinois Senate voted 38-18 to override the governor’s veto.

“Democracy only works if people are engaged in the democratic process,” Bennett said. “This is a simple step to help us engage more people and give them an opportunity to exercise their fundamental rights.”

The Illinois General Assembly passed Senate Bill 250 with overwhelming bipartisan support during the spring legislative session, Governor Rauner vetoed the legislation in August.

Studies released by the Brennan Center for Justice found that every state that has modernized their registration system has saved money. Delaware recently improved its electronic voter registration system at DMVs, saving over $200,000 an year from its election budget.

Estimates show the annual county-level costs throughout the country for voter registration is at least $1 billion, or about one-third of the total county-level cost of administering elections.

Under current law eligible citizens are allowed to register when they renew their license or state ID. Senate Bill 250 would change the rule from an “opt-in” system where citizens have to actively register to “opt-out,” where they can choose to not register to vote.


Bennett100216CHICAGO – Former Speaker of the U.S. House Dennis Hastert is an admitted sex offender. But he is in prison for bank fraud, not sex crimes.

That’s because the deadline to prosecute his crimes against students ran out long ago and prosecutors are powerless to do anything.
That would change under a proposed law being sponsored by State Senator Scott Bennett (D – Champaign). His proposal to extend that deadline was the subject of a committee hearing Tuesday that included testimony from one of Hastert’s victims.

Read more ...

VeteranCemeteryRANTOUL – George Haworth was perusing through a St. Joseph antique shop last year when he discovered a grave marker belonging to a World War I veteran.

While the back of the grave marker listed the veteran’s name, military unit and day of his death, it did not contain any further information.

“I didn’t know where the marker belonged, but I knew at that moment I wanted to do everything I could to return it to its rightful place,” Haworth said.

Read more ...


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