Forget one-third tuition policy

The Illinois Board of Higher Education today might vote to keep tuition at one-third the instructional cost of running the university.

Officials at state universities, including NIU, have not followed the one-third rule because the State of Illinois has not funded the other two-thirds. And as we know, that funding has to come from somewhere.

The proposed policy states tuition rates “should approximate a one-third share of instructional costs in a university system, recognizing that short-term deviation from this proportion may be necessary.”

This policy should be voted down. Without support from the State of Illinois, how can a university be expected to maintain the one-third ratio? The policy should not only ask the universities to keep tuition to one-third, but also ask the state to pay its share.

Certainly universities should consider ways to save money and eliminate waste. The more prudent a university can be, the lower the instructional costs become.

In any tuition policy, the primary goal must be to provide the best quality education at the lowest cost. The Illinois legislature cannot just give away more money without an assurance that it will be properly spent and that quality will be maintained.

And students should not have to keep paying higher and higher tuition without an assurance that the money will be used toward their education. Further, students should not have to continue paying higher bills to make up for the state’s lack of support.

The state should decide how much it is going to commit to public higher education. The two-thirds of instructional costs seems reasonable.

Without some kind of a commitment, the universities are left with very few options. And they are left to wonder if the state really cares.