- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 12, 2017

CHICAGO (AP) - Former presidential aide Valerie Jarrett won’t collect a speaking fee for a commencement speech at cash-strapped Northeastern Illinois University.

Spokeswoman Amy Brundage said Tuesday the aide to former President Barack Obama has told university officials she won’t accept a fee for the May commencement address.

University president Richard Helldobler told trustees last week Jarrett would receive $30,000 for the speech. A donor later offered to cover her fee. University spokesman Michael Hines says it’s unlikely the anonymous donor will come up with the money now that Jarrett will appear for free.

Northeastern Illinois has been hard-hit by the 22-month Illinois budget impasse. The Chicago university closed down all operations for two days this week in an effort to slash expenses.

Northeastern also was closed during spring break in March. Most employees were required to take five unpaid days off.

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