It's no way to run a railroad – a state without a budget and not funding higher education. The president of Southern Illinois University, speaking for his own school and his Illinois brethren, says everyone's limping through the year. “We're pulling down on reserve funds in ways that are well beyond what we should be doing,” says Randy Dunn, “slowing down vendor payments, (and) halting as many purchases as possible.” Dunn says the state's failure to fund the MAP grants – a tuition assistance program to needy Illinoisans – is a travesty.
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“This is a covenant, an agreement, between the state of Ilinois and students, and that has to be paid at some point in time. The universities cannot be expected to eat that.” Dunn says it would be “devastating” to students to have to go to students and ask them to pay up. While Southern, with campuses at Carbondale and Edwardsville and -- in the medical school's case, Springfield – is strong, not everyone is. The question of how many universities Illinois needs now, says Dunn, is a fair one.