Committee says decision won’t satisfy all

By Vickie Snow

The Joint Committee on College Tuition realizes its decisions on tuition rates won’t please everyone, but maintains it is working on an agreeable policy.

Created last June by the General Assembly, the committee will review current tuition-setting policies. The public hearings offer chances for everyone to voice their opinions before the committee brings its final decision to the assembly Jan. 9, 1991.

“The question is what kind of deal is going to be struck,” said David Starrett, executive director of the Illinois Student Association, which lobbied to form the committee.

Existing guidelines for setting tuition rates made by the Illinois Board of Higher Education suggest that tuition should be one-third the cost of instruction. The state carries the burden of paying the rest.

The Board of Regents, NIU’s governing body, likes the current policy but wants to add a policy governing future increases, Starrett said.

The ISA also wants to keep the one-third policy but “move toward bringing down tuition to where it ought to be,” Starrett said.

“If we’re successful, bills will go down and not just be frozen,” he said. A tuition freeze blocks any increases until the General Assembly hears the committee’s proposal.

Lowering tuition could cost “tens of millions of dollars,” Starrett said.

The committee’s recommendation might include cuts in tuition, but Brian Hopkins, committee vice chairman, doubts all members will pass the idea.

Once the assembly receives the proposal, it could take all spring to arrive at a decision, Hopkins said, adding he thinks university governing boards will try to hurry the process.

“The Board of Regents obviously can’t wait to raise tuition,” Hopkins said. The board hikes tuition rates “almost on an annual basis,” he said.

The board recommended in September to raise tuition as a signal to the legislature to pump more state funds into education.