What Parents Need to Know About the 2024 Illinois Education Budget

Learn how our state is funding K-12 education and early childhood educators during the 2023-2024 school year.

On June 7, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the state budget for the 2024 fiscal year into law at Christopher House, a pre-K through eighth grade non-profit school. The site of the budget signing was symbolic of the state’s financial investment in education. 

The $50.6 billion budget includes $2.53 billion for education, the largest increase in education funding in over 20 years. 

“In Illinois, we stand with our students, teachers and families. The passage of the Fiscal Year 2024 Higher Education State Budget paves the way for us to go even further. Core to these historic investments is uplifting families, while also providing the building blocks for our children’s futures,” said Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton in a press release.

The 2024 fiscal year started on July 1, which means this historic increase in funding will impact the upcoming 2023-2024 school year. Read on to learn how Illinois is investing in its students’ education, from pre-K to the college level. 

Investing in early education

The 2024 budget includes a $570 million increase for K-12 education, $250 million of which is for the first year of Smart Start Illinois. Smart Start Illinois is the governor’s four-year plan to provide every student in Illinois with a preschool education by 2027. The initiative includes building new preschools to eliminate preschool deserts and funding early education grants increasing support for the early childcare workforce.

K-12 public schools received a major increase of $350 million to the evidence-based funding formula, a model that distributes funding to school districts based on need.

Also in the education budget is an additional $75 million for the Early Childhood Block Grant at the Illinois State Board of Education, and an additional  $40 million for Early Intervention programs. Since Governor Pritzker took office in 2019, funding for the Early Childhood Block Grant has increased by $179 million. 

Other early education investments in the 2024 state budget include: 

  • $1.6 million to launch Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, an initiative that allows families statewide to register their children ages 0-5 to receive free books, no matter the family’s income.
  • $12.6 million for student mental health support
  • $5 million for Home Visiting programs that support families with children ages 0-5.  
  • $3 million to expand access to computer science coursework
  • $3 million for a new grant for institutions that serve large proportions of low-income students
  • $2 million to fund grants and support for End Student Housing Insecurity

Investing in teachers

In response to the state’s struggle to find and retain early education teachers, the 2024 education budget is funding grants and programs to train, retain and support teachers and students who want to become future educators. 

A three-year pilot program to help schools fill large teacher vacancies received $45 million for its first year. The program will prioritize school districts that historically have struggled to hire and retain teachers. 

The Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship, which supports diverse, bilingual and minority student educators and teachers in-training, received a $3.8 million increase. 

The budget also increased funding for Grow Your Own, an organization that helps diverse and community-oriented individuals become educators in hard-to-staff schools; Golden Apple, a mentoring organization for teachers; and the Teachers Loan Repayment Program, a state program that provides financial awards to teachers who work in low-income areas.  

Investing in higher education

In addition to supporting future educators, the budget also invests in higher education for all Illinois students. 

Public universities and community colleges received the highest increase in over 20 years — an $80.5 million increase for public universities and a $19.4 million increase for community colleges.The Monetary Award Program (MAP) received an additional $100 million in funding. MAP grants are awarded to students at or below the medium income level and can be used for tuition and school fees. This funding will be used to increase awards and create free access to community colleges.

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Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts is the assistant editor on the Chicago Parent team. She is always on the lookout for the coolest and trendiest new attractions, restaurants and events for Chicagoland families. Her newsletters, online family guides and exciting digital content keep families informed on all the latest happenings around town.


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