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posted: 10/19/2011 5:45 AM

State owes $7.5 million to local community colleges

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  • The state of Illinois is more than 30 days past due in paying $1.1 million to Harper College in Palatine.

       The state of Illinois is more than 30 days past due in paying $1.1 million to Harper College in Palatine.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Illinois has $2.7 million in overdue bills owed to the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.

       Illinois has $2.7 million in overdue bills owed to the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

 
 

SPRINGFIELD -- State government owes suburban community colleges millions of dollars, but officials say the schools have avoided major problems because they rely mostly on local property taxes for funding.

College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn is waiting on about $2.7 million in payments that were more than 30 days late as of Sept. 8.

Overall, Illinois owed six local community colleges $7.5 million over the same time period.

College of Lake County in Grayslake was owed $1.3 million and Harper College in Palatine was owed $1.1 million.

The colleges are eager to get the money they're owed, especially as they've taken on a growing role in retraining the jobless and giving teens a lower-cost college option.

But CLC Vice President of Administrative Affairs David Agazzi said the state's payments, while late, are coming in faster than they used to.

And, Agazzi says, state money is "less than 10 percent of our budget."

That's the story throughout the suburbs, where public community colleges generally have fared better during the state's fiscal troubles than their counterparts downstate.

"The more they are capable of producing in property tax revenue, the less dependent they are to the state," said Michael Monaghan, executive director of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association.

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