Another Big Ten School May Be Established in Illinois

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SPRINGFIELD (WIFR) -- Two Illinois state senators are introducing legislation to make another Illinois university a Big Ten school. They say it will keep tuition low and retain home-grown talent in Illinois.

According to a press release, state Sens. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) and Michael Connelly (R-Naperville) say the idea developed after learning more and more suburban students leave Illinois to attend other, high-priced Big Ten institutions out-of-state.

The measure, Senate Bill 3526, would create a study commission to explore the possibility of establishing an existing Illinois public university as another Big Ten university. The bill passed the Senate Higher Education Committee on March 19. It is expected to be called for a Senate vote soon.

Sen. Murphy says since Illinois is the fifth largest state in the country, that creates a competitive admission process at the state's only flagship university.

"We should make it easier for these students to stay in Illinois, not look for greener pastures across state lines," Sen. Murphy said.

Sen. Connelly notes other surrounding, smaller states have multiple Big Ten schools, such as Michigan and Indiana.

"It is my hope this commission can find a way to deliver a higher education system that gives our young people the opportunities they seek at a price they and their parents can afford," Sen. Connelly said.

The commission would be composed of higher education professionals, one member from each of the four caucuses, an Illinois resident paying out-of-state tuition to a Big Ten institution and a student from Illinois who has left the state to attend another Big Ten institution. The commission's report would be due to the General Assembly by January 1, 2015.

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