NIU students, faculty have best of state school parking

By Jean Volz

Although the parking situation at NIU seems to be giving parking services a bad name, students and faculty need to realize they have it better than other Illinois universities.

Helen Nodurft, director of NIU’s Parking Services, said NIU’s parking rates are comparatively cheaper than other in-state schools.

The difference lies in the cost and availability of parking permits.

Whereas ISU and U of I have only one type of permit for university employees, NIU has two.

Red and blue permits at NIU are for employees of the university and those receiving assistantships and fellowships from the Graduate School.

Red parking permits cost $350 and include reserved parking spots parking areas near the university during school hours.

The other permit available for NIU employees is the blue permit which costs $50. This price allows the person to park in a number of lots on or near campus.

Maggie Nelson, a representative for ISU Parking Services, said ISU has only one permit for university employees which costs $250; however, this permit entitles its owner to a reserved spot in one of ISU’s two parking garages or a restricted surface lot.

Rose Jones, chief clerk at U of I’s Division of Campus Parking, said the yearly rate for faculty and staff parking at U of I is $198. Faculty and staff members may park in any of three parking garages near the campus or in open lots.

In addition, Jones said U of I rents reserved surface lot spaces to departments for $386 per year.

“This allows a department to have extra parking space in case they have guests,” Jones said.

Concerning student parking permits, the same trend in costs and options exists.

An NIU student may choose from brown, yellow, and orange permits, which are based on the location of the student’s residence.

All these permits cost $40, although a student may purchase a reserved spot for $240.

The brown permit is reserved for students living on a bus route or within walking distance of campus, while yellow permits are available only to students who live outside the walk or bus zone. The orange permit is available for students residing in residence halls.

Although all permits cost the same, parking lots are color-coded, giving off-campus commuters and residence hall residents better spots.

Neither ISU nor U of I take the location of a student’s residence into account when assessing permit costs.

However, Nelson said ISU offers a wide variety of permits to its students based on the location of the parking spot, rather than the location of the student.

The cost for an ISU permit in a reserved parking space, typically in a parking structure, costs $250. Storage lots, which are primarily for students living in residence halls, cost between $100-$150 a year.

U of I’s rates for student parking are in the same ballpark as ISU’s. However, U of I has a bad parking problem.

“We have waiting lists that are years long,” Jones said.

If a student at U of I is lucky enough to get a parking space in one of the school’s open lots the price is $168 for the school year.

Although NIU’s permit prices are cheaper than those of ISU and U of I, Nodurft said she has no idea whether or not they will increase after the new parking structure opens.

Nodurft said the amount of money generated from parking tickets, permits, meters and the visitor pay lot covers both the salaries of parking personnel and the reconditioning of the lots.

For those faculty members and students who wonder how the new parking garage was financed, Nodurft said it was initially paid for with bond revenue. However, parking services will have to make enough money to pay back the loan.

Although students and faculty blame parking services for their parking woes, Nodurft considers this view unfair.

She said, “We do not set the policies, we enforce them.”

Helen Nodurft, director of NIU’s Parking Services, said NIU’s parking rates are comparatively cheaper than other in-state schools.