Tuition talk continues

By Eric Krol

A controversial tuition plan has brought an initial negative reaction from the state’s higher education governing body.

Illinois State University President Thomas Wallace submitted his new state-wide tuition proposal to the Illinois Board of Higher Education a few weeks ago, said IBHE Deputy Director Ross Hodel. Wallace’s proposal calls for a tuition increase based on a student’s income level.

“Politically speaking, both the Democrats and Republicans are opposed to raising tuition right now,” Hodel said.

“The climate politically is to try and help the middle income students, and I don’t know if this plan does that,” he said.

Under Wallace’s plan, all students would be assessed a $650 tuition increase each year but only would pay a portion of the increase depending on the level of their parental income. Wallace has said the plan would raise money for university operational costs and provide scholarship grants for students.

However, Hodel added members of the IBHE office have yet to discuss the plan at length.

Hodel said the plan will be discussed when Wallace and other ISU representatives meet at the IBHE office in Springfield later this month.

Representatives from all public universities and colleges will meet to discuss their budget requests for next year from Oct. 16 to 25, but Hodel said he is not sure of a specific ISU date.

Hodel also said Wallace’s plan is almost identical to a bill that was defeated in the state legislature two years ago.

The bill, proposed by David Hultgren, R-Monmouth, was soundly defeated, Hodel said.

David Jesuit, Hultgren’s administrative assistant, said the bill would have liberated the $3,000 the state spends on each public university student.

Under Hultgren’s bill, the state would give the $3,000 to the public or private school a student chose to attend, Jesuit said.

This would have made schools more competitive in trying to attract students and get the subsidy money. But the plan also would have caused a tuition increase because universities would have received less money from the state when enrollment decreased, Jesuit said.

Hodel said although he hasn’t looked at the plan closely, he doesn’t think a yearly tuition increase would be supported.

“Last year, there was quite a bit of screaming and yelling about a 5 percent tuition increase,” Hodel said.

But at some point in the future, the IBHE might have to address the problem in this type of manner, Hodel said.