Ohio funding plan sought

By Diane Buerger

A plan which establishes a set amount of state funding for tuition at Ohio’s universities has gained the support of NIU President John LaTourette.

Implemented by the Ohio General Assembly, the plan increases the state’s ratio of tax appropriations to tuition. All state universities in Ohio are controlled by one governing board.

Ken Beasley, assistant to the president, said the plan establishes a 2 to 1 ratio of tax dollar support and tuition. Two-thirds of funding would come from tax sources and one-third from the students, making universities more accessible to more students, he said.

The purpose of the plan would be to lower the ratio so that 60 percent of funding is state supported and 40 percent is student supported.

Beasley said, “It would be a nice thing to have in Illinois. Currently, 42 percent (of funding) is supported by tuition and this would make a change so education funding is not placed so heavily on the backs of the students.”

David Starrett, president of the Illinois Student Association, said his organization believes students in Illinois’ public universities are entitled to a rollback of tuition to the January 1988 level. He said this is an issue in which students can actively fight for a change in the tuition they pay.

Starrett has spoken with Board of Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves on the issue and is “very interested” in the plan used in Ohio. However, the ISA is concentrating its efforts on a plan which would appropriate general revenue funds to various higher edcuation systems in order to offset last year’s tuition increases.

Groves discussed the plan during last week’s Board of Regents meeting at NIU. The Board of Regents governs NIU, Illinois State University in Normal and Sangamon State University in Springfield.

Starrett said, “Tuition isn’t at a fair level, it should increase at a moderate rate.”

He said how the University of Illinois handles tuition is a major concern. If Stanley Eikenberry, president of University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, raises tuition other institutions are likely follow suit.

“Students at the University of Illinois at Urbana and Chicago really need to pressure Eikenberry not to propose any further increases, otherwise others will follow,” he said.

Starrett said the ISA opposes the bill proposed by Rep. David Hultgren, R-Monmouth, which would fund the Illinois State Scholarship Commission’s Monetary Award Program by transferring $100,000 from public higher education.

Starrett said, “Universities would have to raise tuition, and tuition would go through the roof in order to get the money they lost.”

He said a tax increase is still possible, even though Gov. James Thompson’s budget does not call for one and the ISA is seeking to establish tuition abatement as a line item part of the budget.