8/28/2023 9:00:00 AM
Undergraduates majoring in computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will have access to a new grant covering tuition beginning in the 2024-2025 school year.
Undergraduates majoring in computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will have access to a new grant covering tuition beginning in the 2024-2025 school year. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed legislation to cover tuition costs for students majoring in tech-related fields.
The Illinois Graduate and Retain Our Workforce (iGROW) Tech Act established a new program for tech majors to receive tuition grants. It will be administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) and open to all students enrolled in associate or bachelor’s degree programs at public or private colleges and universities. Students in information technology and computer science fields are eligible to receive a grant up to the total cost of tuition. Grants require that students sign an agreement pledging to work for one year at a qualified job in Illinois for each year of assistance they receive for a minimum of two years.
The iGROW program will begin in the 2024-2025 academic year, with $2 million in state funding allocated to ISAC.
Gov. Pritzker said in a public statement. “Our best asset is our top-tier workforce, and that’s why we’re taking steps every day to push the bar higher and deliver new opportunities for every student. I’m proud to sign this legislation that will train and recruit the next generation of tech leaders and continue growing Illinois’ thriving tech sector.”
There are jobs for computer science graduates in Illinois. According to the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, STEM-related jobs in the state have grown by 90,000 since 2010, a 3.5% annual rate. The 2020 report stated, "By percentage, no state among the top 10 in STEM employment has grown jobs more quickly than Illinois—and only three states nationally have added more STEM jobs—over the past decade.” Tech Chicago touted the presence of 6,151 tech companies in the city and noted that “23 tech unicorns call Chicago home, with 12 minted in 2021 alone. Twenty-six percent of Chicago’s tech workforce is Black or Latinx. Thirty-four percent of Chicago startups are run by women—the highest concentration of women-owned startups in the world.”
Closer to the Department of Computer Science, the Research Park at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign contains more than 120 companies in a “blend of startups and multinational companies.” The Milken Institute ranked Urbana-Champaign in their 2022 Best-Performing Small Cities index, based on “an emphasis on jobs, wages, and high-tech growth.” The report noted that “Champaign-Urbana appeared to benefit from its high rankings in one-year job growth and one-year wage growth… Notably, Champaign–Urbana placed 27th in housing affordability, by far the highest rank of any of the top-tier cities.”
Nancy M. Amato, Abel Bliss Professor and Head, Department of Computer Science University of Illinois said, “The iGROW program will help bright and determined students from every corner of Illinois come to Urbana-Champaign, get help with tuition costs, graduate with a degree from our top-5 computing program, and go on to contribute to the state’s vibrant and growing tech economy.”