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In Illinois, college can be a legislative favor
Illinois lawmakers cling to century-old perk of awarding free rides to public universities
By The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) ' Politicians love to talk about education. In Illinois, legislators go further and personally hand out college scholarships ' sometimes to friends and political allies.

For a century, each legislator has had the power to hand out a few scholarships without regard to students' needs or qualifications. One lawmaker gave $94,000 worth of waivers to a political supporter's children. The FBI is looking into several cases involving recipients with suspicious addresses.

Opponents have failed repeatedly to end the program, but they're making a new push. The House voted last week to halt the waivers. The question now is whether the Senate will allow a vote.

Defenders say the freebies allow them to help needy students, but critics say the favors are unfair and cost public universities about $13.5 million a year.

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