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Illinois universities get 1st state aid in 7 months

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Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Illinois has tapped nearly $700 million in existing funds to make the first payment to colleges and universities they’ve received in seven months.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced the payment Thursday.

It includes $327 million owed for the needs-based Monetary Award Program for 110,000 college students for the past school year.

The Democrat made the announcement in Charleston. She presented Eastern Illinois University President David Glassman with a payment of nearly $6 million.

EIU had to lay off 400 staff members during a two-year budget impasse. The Legislature enacted a spending plan this month over vetoes by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. The budget appropriated the money Mendoza released.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Pat McGuire of Joliet applauded the move. McGuire has been particularly concerned with MAP funding during the standoff.