Hillary Amofa listens to others member of the Lincoln Park High School step team after school Friday, March 8, 2024, in Chicago. (Charles Rex Arbogast / AP Photo)

When the Supreme Court ended affirmative action in higher education, it left the college essay as one of few places where race can play a role in admissions decisions. For many students of color, instantly more was riding on the already high-stakes writing assignment.

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Westchester, speaks at a news conference Wednesday, March 6, 2024, at the Illinois Capitol to highlight the findings of a new report on state funding for public universities. She was the co-chair of the commission that found Illinois underfunds public universities by about $1.4 billion. (Andrew Campbell / Capitol News Illinois)

A state commission found that dedicating an added $100-135 million annually to public universities would allow Illinois to bridge the funding gap in 10-15 years.

(WTTW News)

The first major overhaul of the FAFSA form since the Reagan era was supposed to make the process simpler and quicker. So far, that’s not been the case.

A passer-by walks through a gate to the Harvard University campus, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, in Cambridge, Mass. (Steven Senne / AP Photo)

Generations of Americans have held firm to a version of free speech that makes room for even the vilest of views. Today, that idea faces competition more forceful and vehement than it has seen for a century.

Claudine Gay testifies before Congress.

Claudine Gay resigned after backlash to her testimony at a congressional hearing where she was criticized for not doing enough to tackle antisemitism on campus. She also faced accusations of plagiarism. Gay’s supporters, however, said her ouster reflects a system that wasn’t built for people of color.

File - Students make their way through the Sather Gate near Sproul Plaza on the University of California, Berkeley, campus March 29, 2022, in Berkeley, Calif. (Eric Risberg / AP Photo, File)

Students can usually fill out the FAFSA starting in October, but the 2024-2025 version only became available last week because the Department of Education was still working on the new form.

(MD Duran / Unsplash)

A growing number of students are working to earn as many college credits as possible while they are still in high school. But even as the popularity continues to grow for “dual credit” offerings, a new study shows disparities between racial, economic and geographic groups are also widening.

File photo of a student at a computer. (WTTW News)

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, form is undergoing its first major overhaul since the Reagan era.

File photo of a student at a computer. (WTTW News)

The average student loan debt for Illinoisans is nearly $38,000. Almost 55% of the more than 1 million borrowers in Illinois are under the age of 35, according to the Education Data Initiative.

Dr. Juan Mendoza (left) is a professor, protein engineer and computational biologist at the University of Chicago. (WTTW News)

This year, Juan Mendoza was named a Freeman Hrabowski Scholar by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which funds efforts to bring more scientists from diverse backgrounds into scientific institutions. Mendoza said he got right to work on recruiting.

After his son (right) died, photographer Jose Refugio “Fugie” Almanza created a scholarship fund. (Provided)

After photographer Jose Refugio “Fugie” Almanza tragically lost his 12-year-old son, Almanza sought to turn his pain into purpose. He founded the Joseph Jr. Scholarship Foundation, which aims to help Latinos fund their college educations.

Students walking at Chicago State University. (WTTW News)

The picture for student loan debt has been pretty tumultuous over the last couple of years. Borrowers will soon begin repaying their federal student loans after a forbearance period ends this month.

(WTTW News)

College students juggling multiple responsibilities might find a shortcut through artificial intelligence apps like ChatGPT — but there’s concern that that shortcut cheats students out of a learning opportunity.

Students walking. (WTTW News)

Considerations start with getting admitted and continue with questions of an institution’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion once students get inside the gates.

The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. (WTTW News)

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions, a policy that withstood challenges reaching as far back as 1978. Now, higher education institutions wishing to achieve racially diverse student bodies have to find a new way forward.

(WTTW News)

The Illinois state budget passed this week included increased funding for higher education. That was welcome news to Northeastern Illinois University, which has seen some financial and institutional turbulence in recent years.