Meeting to review rising school cost

By Peter Schuh

The Committee to Study Affordability in Higher Education will meet today to take up its charge to examine issues of cost at Illinois’ public universities.

The committee was established earlier this year by the Illinois Board of Higher Education as part of its Priorities Quality and Productivity initiative.

As part of its charge, the committee will review the recent rising cost of tuition and student fees at the state’s 12 public universities as well as other trends in higher education including student retention and time until graduation. The committee is expected to give recommendations to the IBHE on these issues next September.

Today will be the committee’s first meeting. Rey Brune, committee chair and IBHE board member, said although the IBHE has been specific about what it wants the committee to look at, he is uncertain what form of recommendation the committee will come up with.

He said one of his biggest concerns is the rising cost of higher education on students.

“I think the burden of cost is being increased on students too heavily,” he said. “I think we have to keep in mind this burden to students. A tuition increase is a lot more severe to the student than beneficial to the university.”

The IBHE has cited the cost to students as one of its reasons for establishing the committee. It also has listed the financial strain on the Illinois Student Assistance Commission caused by tuition increases and potential university reallocation savings as other reasons for the committee.

The committee is one more in a variety of actions being taken by the IBHE to enforce its PQP initiative. PQP is the IBHE’s attempt to streamline the state’s higher education system through program cuts and dollar reallocations. Through PQP it recommended 190 programs for elimination last year.

The committee will meet in at 1 p.m. today in Chicago in what Brune said would be an “organizational meeting.”