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This is the time of year when students are receiving college financial aid award letters. And the hard decision of which college to choose begins.

With the rising cost of college tuition; and the increased student debt load that can ultimately follow; it is more important than ever to make the right decision. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) provides a valuable free tool to help you compare financial aid awards and the total cost for up to three colleges.

Need additional assistance? Contact a local ISACorps Member to help you through the college planning process.
Excerpt from Beth Kobliner's story on the PBS News Hour.

Here are four tips to help you and your kid sort through the 7,000 or so U.S. colleges and universities and get the biggest bang for your higher ed buck.

1. Money is a Factor: Level with your kid about how much you can spend and warn her against taking on too much debt. 
  • Make sure any loans are low-interest federal ones (not private). Federal student loans are at a low 5.05 percent interest rate and cap out at $31,000 for five years of college—plus, your kid can choose from a variety of repayment plans after she graduates. 
  • Avoid borrowing on your child’s behalf. The number of parents taking out pricier Parent PLUS loans for their children’s college costs is soaring. Some are even borrowing against their retirement plans. Don’t.
2. The sticker price is not the final price: The truth is, most students receive financial aid to offset the advertised cost of college. (And only about 10 percent of private college students pay full price.) Still, you need to try to get the best estimate of what your family will pay before you tell your kid he can go. To get a rough idea of what you’ll actually pay at a given school, start with the net price calculators from each institution you have in mind.

3. The answer might be closer than you think: Research what your local and state colleges have to offer. Several states, such as Tennessee, Oregon, and Minnesota, offer free community college programs—and New York guarantees certain in-staters free attendance at four-year state schools, too. Another plus: If your kid can commute to campus from home, you can save a bundle.

4. Make a post-graduation plan for paying down debt: One great rule of thumb from Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Don’t borrow more than your expected first-year salary out of school. To make sure your kid is actually drawing a salary after graduation, she should take the advice of Amanda Sale, an admissions officer at the University of Georgia.

“Get connected with the career center early on,” Sale told me. “Don’t wait until you’re a senior, because the resources are fantastic.” Among them, guidance on how to write a resume and interview effectively, and connections to jobs or internships. Because the best way to pay for college is to turn that pricey degree into a healthy paycheck.

Read the entire article by Beth Kobliner, one of the nation’s leading authorities on personal finance for young people

Governor Pritzker approves massive abortion expansion law. Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation Wednesday that will massively expand abortion access in Illinois.

Senate Bill 25, the so-called “Reproductive Health Act,” makes many sweeping changes to Illinois’ abortion laws, establishing abortion as a fundamental right in Illinois. It further provides that a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the law. It repeals the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975, the Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act, and the Abortion Performance Refusal Act, which specifies that a medical professional who declines to recommend or perform an abortion procedure cannot be held liable for damages. The new law contains intentionally vague definitions that will provide for a significant expansion of post viability abortions. Establishing abortion as a fundamental right means Illinois will not be able to enforce its parental notification law that requires parents of minor children to be notified if their daughter seeks and obtains an abortion.
Lieutenant Governor John W. Chapman signs a document
at Secretary of State Charles F. Carpentier's desk, 1953.
Photo from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum
They have names like Zadoc Casey, Stinson Anderson and Gustavus Koerner. Another was named John Smith. In all, the club has 48 members. Some aspired to join, some attained membership through fate. For some, it was the pinnacle of a career in public service, for others it was a stepping stone. The club got its first female member in 1999, and four of the five most recent to join have been women. It got its first African-American member just this year.

Some club members have been very active, some not. One even resigned from boredom. Eight of them ended up moving into the highest office in the state. These are the Lieutenant Governors of Illinois. Important figures in their time, some of them have been forgotten by history.

Ruth Hanna McCormick and fellow women’s suffragist 
Anna Howard Shaw, 1914.
State Representative Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) was a proud Chief Co-Sponsor this year of HR 96 which recognizes Illinois as a leader in the story of women’s suffrage in the United States, and commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment’s ratification in Illinois on June 10, 2019.

“The 19th amendment forbids the states or the federal government from denying a person the right to vote on the basis of sex. This momentous act opened the door for women to vote for all offices,” stated Wehrli in a news release. “HR 96 commemorates granting women the right to vote with special attention to Illinois’ proud place in the effort. Illinois is home to storied women’s right advocates and suffragists like Jane Addams, Frances Willard, and Ruth Hanna McCormick.” Read the rest of the story in Positively Naperville.
Bipartisan, balanced budget passed after inclusion of House Republican-backed business reforms. As the General Assembly’s May 31 scheduled adjournment approached, intense negotiations took place in a bipartisan, bicameral effort to reach a deal on a balanced budget and capital infrastructure plan.

Under the leadership of House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Deputy Leader Tom Demmer, House Republicans insisted that key business reforms be included in the budget and capital plan. These reforms will make Illinois a better place to create jobs and grow capital investment and were strongly backed by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and other business groups.
Governor Green (back, left), Col. McCormick (back, right), and U.S. Senator
Brooks (front, left) leave the State House on Republican Day at the Illinois
State Fair. Photo from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum.
Illinois’ most famous criminal carried out a reign of violence and terror that gripped Chicago for years during Prohibition. Al Capone’s legend grew with each headline-grabbing murder, and his exploits remain well known today thanks to a series of movies and TV shows. While prosecutors could never definitively pin most of the murders or the bootlegging on him, they did finally trip him up over unpaid taxes on his ill-gotten gains.

It was an IRS attorney named Dwight H. Green who got the tax evasion indictment and eventual conviction that sent Al Capone to prison. Green became famous as a crime fighter, and less than a decade later was taking the oath of office as the 30th Governor of Illinois. But halfway through his second term in Springfield, a deadly scandal within his own administration would come to light and cut short his career at the moment it seemed destined for new heights.