Students might face tution hike

Tammy Sholer

NIU’s tuition and fees might increase next fall to about $800 per semester if a 4 percent tuition increase for all Illinois public colleges is passed by the Board of Regents and the Illinois General Assembly.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) approved a tuition increase of 4 percent for all Illinois state colleges, along with a faculty salary increase of 6 percent and a 9.2 percent increase in the Illinois operating budget.

John Pembroke, Regents’ vice chancellor, said the Regents will be addressing the IBHE’s proposal in March or April. If approved, it would go into effect for the next academic school year. Currently, tuition and fees cost $774 per semester or $64.50 per credit hour. With the increase, the cost would rise to $67.08 per credit hour.

Dan Wit, NIU acting vice president and provost, said raising the tuition 4 percent is “not a dramatic increase.” He said, “Students pay 24 percent of the cost of their education and the rest comes from the state.”

University of Illinois President Stanley Ikenberry said, “A four percent (tuition increase) is a moderate increase, and it is the lowest in the last decade. It is likely to be adopted by the other universities.” The tuition increase must be approved by each university.

oss Hodel, IBHE director for fiscal affairs, said IBHE compared NIU with peer institutions offering similar programs. From their comparisions they discovered that NIU is 3 percent behind in salary. “The salary increase will keep up with inflation and close the gap with peer institutions,” he said.

Wit said the proposed salary increase averages to about 5.7 percent, and it is a moderate pay increase. He also said NIU salaries are low compared to other peer institutions.

Ikenberry said the 6 percent faculty salary increase will not improve the university’s standing among other big 10 institutions. Instead, U of I will maintain the same standing because other institutions will raise faculty salaries also. “A pay increase is needed to keep the best faculty,” Ikenberry said.

odel said the operating budget funds will be placed in six areas to maintain and strengthen all academic areas and other offerings at NIU.

Also, the IBHE wants to increase expenditures to minorities, Hodel said. He said a significant amount of money has been set aside to aid minorities in various ways, including grants and scholarships.

odel said the third funded area would be coordination with elementary and secondary schools. He said $16 million has been allocated to economic development programs, such as computer science and biotechnology.

Another $16 million would be used to improve undergraduate education, including the reduction of teacher-to-student ratios, Hodel said. Finally, about $22 million of the budget would be allocated to state financial aid, he said.

odel said the 9.2 percent increase in the operating budget comes to $144 million overall. There are three sources the money would come from, he said. The largest sum of $130 million would come from the state.

Funds also would come from the tuition increase, which amounts to $13 million. The rest of the money, about $9 million, would come from institutions internally re-allocating money by transferring money from a low priority program to a high priority program, Hodel said.

Wit said because NIU is underfunded by 4 percent, which translates into millions of dollars, the university must internally re-allocate funds. The IBHE’s proposal would not give NIU full funding, even though they recognize the university is underfunded, he said.