Rising tuition costs result of increase in expenses

By Hailey Kurth

Gabrielle Miggins pays $23,000 to attend NIU.

That was the cost for her after adding up the tuition, books, room and board, the junior elementary education major said. Miggins said she pays for her education with financial aid, scholarships and grants.

“My mom and my brother stressed to me about making sure I get good grades so I can get grants and stuff,” Miggins said.

State Rep. Robert Pritchard, R-Hinckley, said most universities are faced with many reasons to raise tuition costs. Some reasons include state payment, cost inflation of resources the university needs, negotiations of faculty pay raises and the overall management of a university’s money.

The annual tuition, general fees and expenses for an undergraduate student taking 15 credits is about $11,855, according to the fall 2011 and spring 2012 tuition estimator. The tuition estimator calculated a year of living in a double room in Grant Tower with the cheapest meal plan and no Huskie Bucks at $9,346. The total cost for the spring and fall semester is about $21,201.

NIU alumna Kathy McCormick attended NIU from 1982 to 1984. She said she recalls making a semester payment that was around $550.

“I remember that because I went to a Catholic high school and I think tuition there was $1,000,” McCormick said. “So here I was going to college for almost the same price my parents paid for high school.”

Miggins said she thinks the rise in tuition is because of digitalized teaching and different classroom settings.

She said she believes if college tuition continues to rise, it will cost about $40,000 to $50,000 when her children are able to attend.

The rising costs of living at NIU is the result of a general increase in expenses like utilities, salaries and cost of food, said Michael Stang, Housing and Dining executive director.

“It’s really a nominal amount,” Stang said. “This year we went up by about a 1.5 percent increase for students who live on campus.”

The rise in tuition each year doesn’t affect many current NIU students due to an Illinois state law called Truth-in-Tuition, said Jane Jordan, associate director of student financial aid.

“This law effectively freezes an eligible students’ tuition rate for four continuous years and an additional grace semester if needed,” Jordan said.

Pritchard said Illinois has tried to make a number of programs available to families to make college costs more reasonable.

“Families and students also need to plan for college and try to save some funding before they get to the point of needing it,” Pritchard said.

In March, MAP grant funding was suspended earlier than usual because students are filling out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSAs) earlier and hoping to be awarded the MAP grant, Jordan said.

McCormick said her children collected about $25,000 in school loans. One route her husband wanted their children to take is get an associate’s degree from a junior college, McCormick said.

“On the other hand, going away to college is an experience in some ways that money can’t buy,” McCormick said.