Tuition rates frozen for sixth straight year

By Dan Doren

DeKALB — Tuition rates for undergraduate students will remain frozen at $348.84 per credit hour for the sixth year in a row.

The Board of Trustees approved NIU President Lisa Freeman’s recommendation to keep tuition rates flat for fiscal year 2021 during its Dec. 5 meeting. Fiscal year 2021 begins July 1 and ends June 30, 2021.

“The recommendations, as always, were developed with goals of addressing affordability concerns and maintaining fiscal responsibility by keeping the total cost of attendance for full-time students as low as possible,” Freeman said.

Undergraduate tuition costs $348.84 per credit hour and is capped at $4,732.80 for students taking 12 or more credit hours, according to the Office of the Bursar’s website.

Past board agendas show the undergraduate tuition rate has been consistent since fiscal year 2016, when the credit-hour threshold for capped tuition was reduced from 14 to 12 credit hours.

The tuition cap is meant to encourage students to enroll in more courses in a given semester and earn their degrees in a shorter amount of time, according to a Dec. 10 news release.

Board Secretary Robert Pritchard said while freezing the university’s tuition costs is commendable, the costs are generally higher than those of out-of-state institutions.

The average annual cost of undergraduate tuition at NIU is 34% higher than the national average for four-year public institutions, according to CollegeCalc.

“That’s the responsibility of the state of Illinois, and we have failed to be competitive,” Pritchard said.

Pritchard praised Freeman for her Huskie Pledge initiative, and said he believes increased scholarship opportunities for incoming students will help make the university more attractive in areas outside of tuition.

“I think these are great new tools that will help balance our tuition fees and things that may not be as competitive,” he said at the board meeting.

The Huskie Pledge will launch in the fall 2020 semester and provide eligible Illinois residents with a grant that covers their first year’s tuition in full.

To receive this grant, the applicant must have graduated from an Illinois high school during the 2019-2020 school year, be enrolled full time as a first-year student, have a 3.0 GPA or higher and have an annual household income of $75,000 or less.

The grant will be renewable for a maximum of four additional years if criteria continue to be met, according to the Huskie Pledge website.

Room and Board

Room and board fees will also be kept flat for the fourth consecutive year.

The double occupancy rates for Gilbert, Grant and Stevenson will remain $5,440 per semester. This rate includes the ResNet fee and residence hall surcharge, at $92 and $50 respectively, according to the Office of the Bursar.

These costs went up $52 per semester in fiscal year 2018 and have remained constant since that increase, past agendas show.

New Hall and Northern View aren’t regarded in the new housing rates, since both are run by a public-private partnership and have rates put in place by an agency independent from the university, according to the news release.