History, progress to decide allocations

By Northern Star staff

Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Hinckley said the next step in determining the state budget allocations to higher education is to look at the history and progress of universities.

NIU was one of the last universities to testify in front of the Illinois House Appropriations-Higher Education Committee, Pritchard said. NIU testified Thursday in response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed 31 percent cut to NIU’s state funding. The proposed allocation of $64 million to NIU for Fiscal Year 2016 would be a cut of about $29.3 million from NIU’s FY 2015.

The committee has asked every university why their tuition is higher than other schools in their conference, Pritchard said. NIU has one of the lowest tuition rates compared to its peers, Pritchard said. NIU is in the Mid-American Conference with 11 others.

“I was pleased that Northern has been more aggressive with looking at its cost structure, number of administrators and taking steps to bring the university in … a mode that holds down costs to some degree or keeps them from escalating while still providing a rich, educational experience for students,” Pritchard said.

Higher education appropriation is different than most state budget allocations, Pritchard said. The committee will take a total budget number and allocate it based on history and progress in “budgeting for results,” or the model put in place for universities to focus on student progress, Pritchard said.