A controversial new Illinois state law provides financial aid to two groups of prospective college students.
Effective since Jan. 1, the Retention of Illinois Students and Equity Act (RISE) qualifies undocumented and transgender, or non-binary – not exclusively masculine or feminine – students eligible for taxpayer-funded grants through the Monetary Award Program (MAP) administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC). Undocumented students are illegal aliens, notes Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute (IFI), and the transgender students eligible under the program are those born male who did not register for the draft as required by law.
By not registering for the draft, these students become ineligible to apply for grants under the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) program.
“The reason [Gov. J.B] Pritzker [signed RISE in June], and his collaborators in Springfield are now forcing Illinois taxpayers to pay for these students’ college educations, is that illegal aliens and some cross-sex passers are ineligible for federal aid,” Higgins wrote in a commentary posted on the IFI website. “So, they figure Illinois taxpayers should take up the slack.”
Federal law requires that men 18 and older register for selective service even though the country currently has no draft. The ISAC website says that the registration requirement includes transgender students “who were assigned a male gender at birth but who now identify as female or non-binary." A failure to register will make these students ineligible for federal financial aid.
By contrast, individuals who were assigned a female gender at birth and now identify as male or non-binary are not required to register.
A fiscal note attached to HB 2691 that created RISE estimates that “approximately 3,500 students may become newly eligible . . . adding about $9 million in annual demand for the program.”
The law also providers another layer of protection for illegal immigrants, in addition to the 2017 sanctuary law. Under RISE, the names of those applying for the grants are private – they are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
“According to regressives, forcing struggling Illinois taxpayers to subsidize the college educations of illegal aliens and young men who refuse to register for selective service constitutes equity,” Higgins wrote. “I hear the sound of more moving trucks rolling up to the homes of Illinoisans bound for Florida, Texas, Indiana, Wisconsin and Tennessee.”