SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Students at public universities and community colleges would have easy access to an on-campus benefits navigator beyond tuition aid under a plan passed by state Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for aid with food, housing and other essential services in higher education, but if you don’t know where to look, you can miss out,” West said. “Everyone deserves access to the assistance they deserve, that’s why I introduced a plan to create an on-campus point-person who can guide students in the right direction.”
West’s House Bill 4201 would require public universities and community colleges to designate an on-campus benefits navigator to assist students with accessing state, federal and community benefits. In addition to helping students identify and apply for opportunities, the benefits navigator would work in coordination with others in the same role statewide to develop best practices and share ideas. The position would complement financial aid offices, but would be focused on housing, food and other essential services outside of scholarships and tuition aid.
“The pandemic has put a lot financial strain on students, and they may not always know what assistance is available to them,” saidState Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Senate sponsor of the legislation. “Having a point-person on campus for college students to go to will increase access to the resources they need to thrive.”
“Accessing benefits can be a difficult process if you’ve never done it before and you do not know who to ask for help,” West added. “Particularly in these difficult times, assistance programs can be the difference when it comes to addressing housing and food insecurity. If we want our students to focus on the classroom and unlock their potential, let’s make sure they have the basic support they need.”
House Bill 4201 passed the House and Senate, and now heads to the governor for his signature. For more information, please contact Press@StateRepWest.com.