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Illinois Creates New Tuition Grant Program for Tech Majors

The Illinois Graduate and Retain Our Workforce (iGROW) Tech Act will offer grants to college students majoring in computer science, information technology or related fields, covering up to the full cost of tuition.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker standing at a podium speaking into a microphone.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker
(AP/John O'Connor)
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation last week to help to build the state’s tech talent pipeline by covering tuition costs for students majoring in tech-related fields.

According to a news release, House Bill 1378 will create the Illinois Graduate and Retain Our Workforce (iGROW) Tech Act to establish a new program for tech majors to receive tuition grants. The new program will be administered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) and will be open to all students enrolled in associate or bachelor’s degree programs at public or private colleges and universities. Students in information technology and computer science fields are eligible to receive a grant up to the total cost of tuition, and grants require that students sign an agreement pledging to work for one year at a qualified job in Illinois for each year of assistance they receive, for a minimum of two years.

“The talent, creativity and innovative capabilities of tech leaders in this state have propelled Illinois to the forefront of international tech success,” Pritzker said in a public statement. “Our best asset is our top-tier workforce, and that’s why we’re taking steps every day to push the bar higher and deliver new opportunities for every student. I’m proud to sign this legislation that will train and recruit the next generation of tech leaders and continue growing Illinois’ thriving tech sector.”

The bill comes shortly after the launch of local initiatives throughout Illinois to train more tech professionals for an increasingly digitized economy. For example, the Illinois Institute of Technology in April established new online degree programs in IT, business administration and data science, and the city of Chicago launched the DiverseTech apprenticeship program to upskill government IT leaders to help fill vacant IT roles in city government.

“The future of our state depends on how well we prepare our students for opportunities in the field of technology. That is why the Illinois Graduate and Retain Our Workforce Tech Act (iGROW) is a fundamental piece that will create a path to impactful and sustainable jobs,” Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton said in a public statement. “As we look at the workforce of tomorrow, we are confident that Illinois students will have the skills to succeed.”

The announcement said the iGROW program will be initiated by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and begin in the 2024-2025 academic year, with $2 million in state funding allocated to ISAC for it.

“Providing an incentive for this field will help grow our economy, retain our workforce and train our next generation of leaders for the jobs of the future,” state Sen. Javier Cervantes, D-Chicago, said in a public statement. “Students and their families invest so much into their education — this law lets them know Illinois has their back and is investing in their future too.”