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NORMAL -- Heartland Community College leaders on Monday met with legislators, stressing the college's excellent "return on investment," and urged the politicians to fight for more higher education funding.

More than 6,000 students are expected to enroll in HCC credit courses next fall, said Heartland President Allen Goben.

He noted that although 65 percent of Illinois college students attend community colleges, only 13 percent of the state's higher education funding goes to the two-year institutions.

He acknowledged community colleges also see revenue from property taxes, but said he wants to see stronger state investment in both community colleges and state universities.

"This isn't us vs. them," he said. Education as a whole betters society, he said.

Goben told legislators Heartland's presence in the community adds to the economic vitality of the area, plays a role in low crime rates, and adds to the health and well-being of the area.

He showed a chart demonstrating community college students' successful transfer rates into public universities as well.

HCC administrators detailed Heartland's new "Guided Path to Success" program aimed at connecting with the K-12 group, as well as developing a career counseling format that also meets adult students' needs.

Legislators also heard about building projects, and HCC's acquisition of 96 acres to the west of the Raab Road campus.

Four state Republicans attended the meeting: Sen. Bill Brady, Bloomington; Rep. Dan Brady, Bloomington; Rep. Bill Mitchell, Forsyth; and Rep. Keith Sommer, Morton.

Representatives for two Republican congressmen, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger and U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, also attended the breakfast, which Heartland's administration holds annually.

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