NIU cost of attendance cuts come with price for some

Keith Hernandez

Full-time undergraduate students living on campus may see a reduction in the cost of attendance next year if the Board of Trustees approves committee recommendations.

The Finance, Facilities and Operations Committee approved recommendations at a Thursday meeting for changes in tuition, room and board and student fees to lower the next academic year’s cost of attendance for undergraduate students by $578 to $22,706, according to numbers from the meeting’s agenda.

But, incoming freshmen and transfer students not living in residents halls will face an increased cost of $222 over what incoming students paid the year before due to increased tuition and fees under the recommendations, according to numbers from the meeting’s agenda.

“This year we have continued our focus on the same two concerns: access and affordability,” said Nancy Suttenfield, interim chief financial officer. “In addition, this year we endeavored to simplify, streamline and realign the underlining structure of each one of our student prices.”

Tuition

Incoming freshmen and transfer students taking 15 credit hours per semester will see a $213 tuition increase over what incoming students paid the year before if the Board of Trustees approves the committee’s recommendations Dec. 4, according to numbers from the meeting’s agenda. A $4,732.80 cost cap will be established after 12 credit hours, creating a declining cost per credit hour starting at 13 hours.

Brad Bond, chair of the committee’s tuition task force, said the declining cost per credit hour after 12 credit hours will encourage students to enroll full-time at NIU.

“We do care that students enroll beyond the minimum to be full-time students,” Bond said. “It emphasizes to the students that we want them to complete their degrees in four years.”

Returning students will see an about 4 percent cost-per-credit-hour reduction, according to truth in tuition figures from NIU’s website and numbers from the meeting’s agenda.

The committee also approved a lower tuition rate for out-of-state students living in the Midwest region. The new rate would be 1.4 times the cost of instate tuition, which, under the proposed tuition for next year, would be about $462.63 a credit hour.

Room and board

The committee proposed the elimination of a $90 meal plan, which will represent an $800 decrease in the cost of room and board for the 2016 academic year. Included in this recommendation is the restructuring of room and board rates, integrating the unlimited meal plan and a single or multiple occupancy into one flat rate.

Eric Weldy, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, said the changes will give families a better idea of the cost of attendance.

“One of the difficulties for our parents and for families is figuring out what is it going to cost as it relates to room and board and being on campus,” Weldy said. “What this allows us to do is really fall in line with our competitors … and make it easier for our families to make a decision.”

Student fees

A $9 student fee increase was recommended by the fee committee, bringing to the cost of fees to $2,748.

The committee also recommended combining the 15 student fee categories into four over two years.

Weldy said the collapse of current fees will be good for transparency, making it easier for students to know where their money is going.