Tuition hike will create financial stress

By Stephanie Bradley

The predicted rise in NIU’s tuition will cause problems for students who need financial aid to fund their college careers, Financial Aid Director Jerry Augsburger said.

In the wake of the death of the proposed income tax increase for the fiscal year 1989 budget, NIU will be forced to raise tuition, which could put some Illinois financial aid programs in jeopardy.

While NIU and federal programs will not be affected, Augsburger said, one Illinois program, the Merit Recognition Scholarship, will be zero-funded. This scholarship had been awarded to every Illinois high school student who graduated in the top five percent of his or her class. These students can renew the scholarship for their sophomore year in college if their grade point average merits it.

The program went over so well that the eligibility was expanded to the top 10 percent, he said. This increased the cost of the program, but he said the state did not increase funding accordingly. Because of the lack of a tax increase, this program will not receive funds this year.

Renee Brooks, manager of agency relations for the Illinois State Scholarship Commission, said neither incoming freshmen nor sophomores will receive the MRS.

When students are granted financial aid, the money comes from a combination of state and federal programs, Augsburger said, depending on the student’s need. Student needs range from “abject poverty to no need,” he said. The needier the students, the more resources are available to them.

Sources for financial aid include Pell grants, the ISSC Monetary Awards Program, entitlement programs such as the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the Perkins Loan Program, and student employment or a Guaranteed Student Loan, Augsburger said.

He said any raises in the tuition after June 1 will not be reflected in the amount of money the student receives, “which will force that student to find other means of covering the tuition hike, such as a GSL or getting more money for student employment.”

Ross Hodel, deputy director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, said the Illinois General Assembly is allocating about $158 million to the ISSC in fiscal year 1990, which will be an increase of about $11 million. This will pay for the previous year’s increase in college costs.

Brooks said because of the defeat of the tax increase about 5,000 fewer students will be able to get a monetary award in FY90, and all programs will be underfunded. The National Guard and the Veterans’ programs both have been underfunded for the past five and six years, respectively, she said.

About $146 million has been allocated to the ISSC for FY89, which is about $40 million less than the amount requested to insure that the MAP would be fully funded, Brooks said. She said budget requests are given to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, which gives recommendations to the governor.

The IBHE asks colleges to report all student costs including a seven percent inflationary cost, Brooks said. The number of applications received is also considered, and also what the estimated Pell grant will be. And, finally, student need is considered, she said.

“Students should apply early, since applications are accepted on a first come, first serve basis. This gives them a better chance of getting money. Check and double check figures and signatures (on the forms). Other aspects of financing should also be considered,” Brooks said.