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Senator Bill Brady is a dunce

Sen. Bill Brady is an idiot.

That doesn’t mean Brady is not a smart person. It’s no joke to graduate from Illinois Wesleyan University, so there’s some semblance of a brain underneath his over-inflated sense of self and his unwillingness to realize that not everyone can be born to a wealthy real estate developer.

I disagree with most of Brady’s social stances. The guy isn’t in favor of medical marijuana, wants to lower the minimum wage, opposes same-sex marriage, is pro-life but favors the death penalty, and wants intelligent design taught in schools.

We couldn’t be more different.

The last point, regarding his views on education is where I think his opinions are especially dangerous. The marijuana and same-sex marriage stuff is antiquated at this point and the minimum wage isn’t going to go lower, but education is lasting and affects the entire state top to bottom.

Brady’s latest act of brilliance is to try and introduce a bill that would privatize state universities over a six-year period. He’s not prepared to call the bill to the floor this year and wants a public debate before doing so.

His rationale? This:

“My goal is maybe this would help prioritize higher ed funding – better than what we’ve been able to do in the past decade,” he said.  “I think the state will continue to have an obligation to support our institutions of higher education.”

This literally flies in the face of Bruce Rauner’s $400 million cut to higher education. Rudimentary knowledge of math would help Sen. Brady understand that when you remove money (or minus it, as he probably says) from a budget, you can’t prioritize it. Because it’s gone. It doesn’t exist.

Brady then went on to say that the state supports needy students at private institutions and that the state might be able to increase that type of aid. Somehow he thinks this is going to happen with less money available.

But that’s all pretty basic, really. I’m lucky enough to come at this from the standpoint of having a close relationship with a private institution and I’ve been able to understand how, exactly, the state has “helped” needy students.

It all starts with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (known as the FAFSA). Students looking for state and federal aid are required to fill out the FAFSA each year. To qualify for any aid from the State of Illinois, your family’s estimated family contribution (or EFC) must be less than $9,000. The state gives what’s called a MAP Grant for those that are under that $9k. The full MAP Grant is $4,720 and to qualify for the full grant your family’s EFC has to be $0.

Let’s use that as a hypothetical to discuss how Bill Brady’s plan will help needy students. If a family’s EFC is $0, they also qualify for the Pell Grant from the federal government for around $5,700. So we’re looking at $10,420 in grants for students who have no EFC.

The total estimated cost for an in-state student at the U of I is $30,346-35,350 and the University’s website says, “Families should include individual anticipated travel and personal expenses when determining cost to attend college.”

Let’s use the lower end of that to continue this hypothetical and let’s round to $30,300. That leaves students with $19,880 that they have to cover. And, reminder, these students are getting $0 from their families to pay for school.

That leaves students with an option for a Federal Direct Loan. This loan is for $5,500 with a 4.66% interest rate. Now we’re down to $14,380.

The next option is to take a parent-plus loan, which this student’s parents would inevitably be denied for because they have no money. When denied the parent-plus loan, the feds will then give another $4,000 to the student, totaling his/her federal loans at $9,500 and leaving this student with a gap of a little over $10,000 to fill.

Inevitably, this leads to more loans from private lenders, and the first year of a student’s education at the University of Illinois will leave them with a debt nearing $20,000. And, for private institutions, the state sends out a really cool “Oh by the way, you have about four days to get your potential students to file the FAFSA or else the state will be out of money” email in February. Most families want to wait until they file their taxes to find out their maximum EFC.

But Brady suggests that maybe the state will be able to help these students more. That’s a noble suggestion, but considering that the MAP grant didn’t increase from $4,720 from 2014 to 2015 and Rauner’s proposed cuts, it’s impossible to believe that this is possible.

It’s this kind of asinine thinking that makes Republicans look like rich, white assholes. Brady’s flippant suggestion of “helping needy students” is utter nonsense. It took me one phone call to get a basic breakdown of how low-income families try and pay for college, and yet this elected official gets to have verbal diarrhea that he thinks should become a law.

The privatization of the University of Illinois won’t make a difference in cost for students. Tuition cost isn’t going down here, it’s not even part of his proposal. If we want to prioritize education, then we need to increase funding and grants for people that can’t afford the high cost of education. The solution isn’t to just privatize all of the state institutions willy-nilly.

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