IBHE to form tuition guideline policy

By Claudia Curry and Dina Paluzzi

After hearing statements from members of about seven Illinois universities regarding a state-wide tuition policy Tuesday, the Illinois Board of Higher Education decided it would form a guidelines policy at its December meeting prior to budgeting in January.

Board of Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves presented a tuition abatement plan to the board which would decrease universities’ reliance on tuition as a major form of revenue.

NIU President John LaTourette said the tuition abatement plan sets the target tuition rate at one-third the cost of instruction. If the legislature approves this plan and provides support, then the objective will be to reduce tuition back to the one-third instructional cost level, he said.

“If the state would fund NIU so the tuition could be one-third of the instructional cost, then tuition would be lowered by about $230 to $240,” he said.

Groves said the state’s support for higher education funding has historically been low. He said the choices are to either sharply reduce the availability of education or turn to students for funding to keep the “doors open.”

“Our response to this has been to reluctantly raise tuition,” Groves said.

Per student in the Regency system, NIU has the lowest amount of state support, LaTourette said. “Our funding level is about $400 less than the average per student, and $700 less than the Board of Governors per student.

“This mix of state support places the burden on the students,” LaTourette said. He said if NIU would receive $700 more per student then it could charge much less for tuition.

Until about 1983, the tuition cost to students was below the targeted one-third level, he said. Currently, NIU students are paying about 40 percent of their instructional costs through tuition.

Illinois Student Association President Dave Starrett said whatever index or policy that the board adopts means nothing unless they enforce it.

While giving his statements on tuition policy to the board, Starrett said the board is aware that “tuition has skyrocketed” and the kinds of increases over the past cannot continue.

The only argument in favor of increasing tuition was presented by Northwestern University professor Edwin Mills. Mills said if tuition is increased there will be more means and incentive to offer a higher quality of education.

“Public taxes for state education are regressive.” By increasing tuition there will be less burden on the tax payers, he said.