Loss of funds caps admissions

By Mike Solley

Prospective students might find it tougher to get into NIU starting in the fall of 1988 if expected budget cuts force a reduction in freshman admissions.

At a press conference Jan. 13, NIU President John LaTourette said 1,650 qualified applicants were turned away last year. The number could reach 2,000 if the expected NIU budget for fiscal year 1988 “does not become a reality,” he said.

Tom Montiegel, vice president for Development and University Affairs, said there is a continuing enrollment limit of 3,500 new freshman. NIU has had to stay with the cap on enrollment this year because of a loss in recommended funds from the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE), he said.

As part of the IBHE’s recommended budget for FY‘88, $490,000 was trimmed from NIU’s budget through the Base Adjustment for Self-Help (BASH) program, Montiegel said. BASH is a way in which the IBHE reduces a university’s budget and instructs it to make up for the loss by shifting funds from some other program, he said.

Although there are no immediate plans to lower the ceiling on freshman enrollment, future budget cuts might be cause for action, Montiegel said. “If the recommended budget fails, we (NIU) would be forced to do something,” he said.

New enrollment is almost always influenced by budget cuts because it is one of the easiest to control, Montiegel said. Not hiring more faculty to teach more sections is a common way to cut expenses, he said.

obert Burke, associate director of Undergraduate Admissions, said there have been no plans to cut enrollment, but his office is taking steps to improve the type of students admitted. “We are trying to keep a window open to be able to admit students who surpass NIU’s basic admission requirements,” he said. NIU has base criteria of a 17 ACT score with class ranking in the top 50 percent for admission.

NIU is in a bind because applications for admission have gone up, Montiegel said. “Enrollment is being stabilized but there is a greater interest in coming (to NIU),” he said.

Burke said NIU is still maintaining its committment to minority students. “We will admit all minority students who meet the criteria (for admission),” he said.