Committee to hold final tuition hearing

By Sabryna Cornish and Vickie Snow

Tuesday is the final public hearing on tuition in Springfield, and NIU students plan to be there.

The Joint Committee on College Tuition has held two hearings in attempts to get input from students, faculty and others before the General Assembly makes its final decision on Jan. 9 whether to raise tuition or refund money to students.

Tuition is frozen until next year when it could remain the same or be reduced; depending on the committee’s proposal and the assembly’s decision.

The committee is checking into the practicality of a current guideline set by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. States’ tuition rates should be one-third the cost of instruction and the state should pay the remainder of the bill.

NIU’s tuition is about 40 percent the cost of instruction.

NIU Student Regent James Mertes said “we hope to send a vanload of students.”

Some members of the Forensics and Debate Team might be making the trip, Mertes said.

Also, the Illinois Student Association will be giving its proposal at the hearing.

ISA Executive Director David Starrett said the ISA “will propose that tuition be capped at its cost as currently calculated.

“The fairest and fastest way to abate tuition is to use a system that gives each university the same amount of money,” he said.

“Universities don’t always spend it (the funds from the state) on teaching,” Starrett said. “They spend it somewhere else.”

Ginger Ruagi, administrative aid to Sen. Jeremiah Joyce, D-Chicago, said Illinois State University President Thomas Wallace and Mitch Vogel, president of the University Professionals of Illinois, also will testify.

“I assume that there will definitely be more testimony,” Rugai said. “People want to ensure their thoughts are entered into the record.”

The hearing will be held at 9 a.m. in Springfield at the Southern Illinois University Medical Center.