IBHE hearings to address rising costs

By Peter Schuh

The Illinois Board of Higher Education has scheduled 30 hours of public hearings and committee meetings over the next ten months to address the rising costs of education at Illinois public universities.

The IBHE’s Committee to Study Affordability will hold four public hearings within the next two months. From these hearings, the committee hopes to gain student and faculty opinions on affordability issues in higher education.

The committee was established this summer by the IBHE with a one-year mandate for a broad study of financial aspects and accessibility issues of higher education. As part of the IBHE’s Priorities, Quality and Productivity intiative, the committee will make a recommendation to the board next September.

Through PQP the IBHE hopes to streamline Illinois’ higher education system by eliminating wasteful spending and reallocating resources to higher priorities.

The Committee to Study Affordability is taking the PQP initiative one step further by looking at higher education’s affordability issues from the viewpoints of students, their families and Illinois taxpayers.

“Members of the financial aid community and university presidents will, of course, attend,” said IBHE Deputy Director Ross Hodel. “I think the committee would also like to hear from students and the parents of students. They are taking the perspective of students and the parents of students and how they choose a college and pay for college, as the name of the committee would imply.”

The committee is inviting interested individuals and groups to testify but is asking those interested to send a copy of their testimony to IBHE Deputy Director Kathleen Kelly 10 days before the meeting.

Anyone who does not send in written testimony can register to testify at the hearing. These individuals are encouraged to bring 20 written copies of their testimony to be distributed among the committee members, but this also is not necessary.

Kelly said, “It would be very helpful if we have at least one written copy so we can send it out to the committee members later.”

She said the effort to have hard copies of each individual’s testimony is “more effective for them and their message.”

The four hearings have been scheduled across the state to provide good geographic access to those interested in testifying. One hearing has been scheduled in the southern region of the state, one in central Illinois and two in the north.

Written testimony can be sent to Kelly at the Illinois Board of Higher Education, 4 West Old Capitol Plaza, Room 500, Springfield, IL 62701.