Expected tuition rise to offset state funds

By Claudia Curry

If the state of Illinois does not raise funding levels for higher education soon, NIU students might see double-digit tuition increases for the next several years.

NIU President John LaTourette said, “If there is no recession, the state revenue will increase to 400 to 500 million dollars a year. For 30 years now, the amount of state funding for higher education has been 10 to 12 percent of the total state revenue.”

That comes to about $40 to $60 million of new revenue for higher education each year, he said. “That level of funding is inadequate.

“Currently, it costs $8 million to give a one percent increase in salary (for faculty). A five to six percent increase would take up most of the new revenue,” LaTourette said.

“What do you do for other cost increases? If we don’t have a tax increase there will certainly be pressure to raise tuition,” he said. “The situation looks pessimistic without a tax increase.”

State Representative John Countryman, R-DeKalb, said, “$40 to $60 million of new revenue for higher education is not adequate. What we need is possibly a one-time boost of $200 to $250 million. After that, $40 to $60 million would be enough.”

Illinois is in a unique situation, Countryman said. “If they (Regents) raise tuition, they’re going to have to appropriate it. All the tuition money must be appropirated by legislature before expenditure by the university.

“I think we need to re-examine the programs and processes before reallocating and increasing the budget,” Countryman said.

NIU Student Regent Nick Valadez said, “For the last 10 years the amount of funding (for higher education) has been inadequate. For the last two years it has been incompetent and irresponsible.

“Certainly, we are going to have to be competitive with salaries. We at the Board of Regents at Northern are going to have to do better in getting funding from legislation for the amount of students we serve,” Valadez said.

“Accessibility (to the university) has been sacrificed for quality in education,” he said. “Pretty soon we will be maintaining a minimum amount of quality and it will result in a minimum amount of students.”