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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Illinois universities deserve better funding

(Courtesy of Getty Images)
A hand drops a coin in a blue piggybank next to a graduation cap. Opinion Columnist Lexi Nebel believes NIU’s request for $116.4 million in state funding is reasonable. (Courtesy of Getty Images)

On Nov. 9 at a Board of Trustees Meeting, NIU requested $116.4 million in state funding. 

While this number may seem shocking, it’s actually an appropriate amount considering NIU’s $32 million deficit and the rising cost of operating expenses at the university.

State funding for colleges in Illinois have dropped almost 50% since 2000, according to a report by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

This is a problem as tuition has begun to increase, making college less affordable for lower and middle class families.

This includes a 1.9% increase in both undergraduate and graduate tuition, according to The Pantagraph. 

The rising cost of tuition has proven to already be a problem for Illinois students, as the fall enrollment rate for public universities in Illinois has fallen 0.5% compared to last year, according to the Illinois Board of Higher Education

While college isn’t completely necessary for a successful future, there are many benefits to completing four years of college and getting a degree.

The unemployment rate for Illinois citizens without a four year degree or more is almost twice as high as those with a degree, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

The money that NIU has requested is going to some useful programs, however, such as the Summer Bridge Program.

The goal of the Summer Bridge Program is to help the transition from high school and community colleges go smoother for incoming students. 

Partial funding will also go toward Hispanic Serving Institution Preparation, which will help expand bilingual staff and services. 

On a positive note, Governor J.B. Pritzker’s administration announced a fiscal year 2024 higher education budget of $2.47 billion, which is a 9.7% increase compared to the last fiscal year, according to Illinois Gov. 

While a $116.4 million ask from the state seems like a lot, it’s just further proof of the need for more funding from the state for all Illinois universities, not just NIU.

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