NIU money crunch halted admissions

A high school student in Illinois wants to go to college, and only can afford in-state tuition. He applies to two state schools and has qualifications well above the admissions standards of each. But he gets turned down by both schools.

This will happen to thousands of high school graduates in Illinois this year. But there are 177 people in the state who can prevent it from happening next year and in years to come—the members of the Illinois General Assembly.

NIU’s move to put a freeze on freshman admissions was a desperate one. It was a move forced by several factors, all tracing back to a lack of proper funding for the university. The move should send a clear message to our state legislature that this university no longer can survive being the second most under-funded public college in Illinois.

At NIU alone, about 540 qualified students have been denied admission so far, and the university expects to turn away up to 2,000 qualified students altogether. Even students who meet the criteria with flying colors and complete applications on time will be told there just is no room for them.

So the university took the action it had to last week by not allowing any students to enter NIU for the summer and fall semesters of 1987. Another Illinois school took the same action in January for the same reason—lack of funds.

NIU’s supply ran short for its great demand, which can be taken as a compliment by those who run the school. But it is no compliment for students who want to attend NIU because of its convenient location, its tuition costs or its academic programs.

But even worse, NIU does not have enough resources to serve its current population. This is evident from the number of students closed out of classes due to lack of faculty members. And in the number of mass classes that must be held to accommodate students fulfilling general education requirements. And in the length of lines at registration and financial aid. Those lines could be shortened by hiring more staff, which, of course, takes more money.

Funding can be increased. With the lobbying efforts of current and prospective students and with a little push from our administration and the Board of Regents, the state legislature might be a bit more generous next time around.

Freezing admissions already shows them how much we need the money. Lobbying would show them how much we want the money.