BOR recommends freeze

By Claudia Curry and Bill Schwingel

Due to a senate resolution, the Board of Regents voted Thursday to maintain tuition rates at regency universities until Jan 1991.

The Regents recommended the tuition freeze for NIU, Illinois State University, Normal, and Sangamon State University, Springfield, this fall semester.

Senate Joint Resolution 0205 states a committee on college tuition “will study the policy of undergraduate tuition at state colleges and universities and will report to the General Assembly by Jan. 9, 1991.”

The senate resolution also states that the General Assembly “urges that undergraduate tuition at any Illinois public college or university shall not be increased pending submission of the joint committee’s report.

“I have mixed emotions about it (the Regents’ recommendation)” due to the lack of state funding for higher education, said NIU President John La Tourette.

“I think it (the Regents recommedation) was a good idea politically,” said J. Carroll Moody, president of NIU Faculty Senate and Joint University Advisory Committee member. “I think students will find it’s going to be a reality of life.”

In the past several years, NIU has gone from being below the national average in terms of tuition rates and student fees to 27 percent higher than the national average in a comparison with other universities in the National Association of Land Grant Colleges and State Universities, La Tourette said.

However, NIU also is 10 to 15 percent lower in terms of room and board cost in comparison to other association universities, he said.

This makes NIU’s total higher education cost only slightly above the national average, he said. “Where the problem is, is in tuition and fees,” La Tourette said.

Because Illinois state legislature has not supported higher educaton, tuition has had to fill the gap to provide a quality education, he said.

La Tourette suggested that Regents and students contact state legislature so legislators realize the impact they have made on universities by their lack of funding.

NIU Student Regent Jim Mertes said, “It’s very unfortunate that the Illinois state legislature does not see funding higher education as an important issue or equally important as other states see it.”

In a comparison of state support for higher education in the past 10 years, La Tourette found Illinois received an 80-percent increase versus an average of 105-percent increase for the other 50 states.

“The dramatic increase in tuition (in the past ten years) really has resulted from the state’s failure to support higher education,” he said.

Mertes said, “I, of course, oppose any kind of tuition increase, but I do recognize the fact that sometimes they are inexorable, if we don’t receive the state support we need.”

Regents chairman Brewster Parker said, “If we don’t get anymore state money, I’m going to make a prophecy that we will see tuition go up next year.”

“We really don’t have any flexibility,” said Eddie Williams, vice president for Finance and Planning. NIU has two major sources of funds: state appropriations and general revenues and tuition, he said.

There is one other source of non-appropriated funds coming from bonds, but it is tied to specific projects and cannot be used for anything else, Williams said.