IBHE will not oppose tuition hike

By Jerry Lawrence

The Illinois Board of Higher Education will not oppose next year’s tuition increase at NIU, according to an IBHE official.

The announcement comes despite a tuition freeze that was included in the IBHE’s budget recommendations for next year.

IBHE Deputy Director Ross Hodel said, “What we have recommended is not a general tuition increase across-the-board for all state public universities. However, there are a couple of schools that had already planned to raise tuition last year.”

The schools with the planned tuition increases were NIU, Illinois State University at Normal and University of Illinois at Champaign, Hodel said.

“We were cognizant of these programs that were in midstream and we did not recommend a general tuition increase,” he said.

According to Hodel, the three-year NIU tuition increase approved last year does not violate the recommendation and the IBHE will not oppose it.

“What we meant (by general tuition increase) was the tuition of all students in every university going up ‘X’ percent,” he said.

If NIU’s tuition increase brings in an additional $2.1 million next year, the IBHE could recommend $2.1 million less for NIU from state tax money, the university’s other source of revenue, Hodel said. But he said the IBHE doesn’t plan to make such a recommendation because NIU has not directly violated the tuition freeze recommendation.

Hodel would not say whether the NIU tuition increase was necessary, as some university officials have maintained.

“I don’t think we have said whether (the tuition increase) is appropriate or inappropriate. Basically, Northern is doing what community colleges have done with implementing a charge per credit hour,” he said.

NIU is gradually implementing a new $82.50 charge for each hour over 12 credit hours and up to 16 hours. This year, $33 of the charge was implemented, an additional $33 is planned for next year and another $16.50 will be added the following year.

Students must take an average of about 16 credit hours per semester in order to graduate from NIU in four years.

Such students would have been paying $1,800 in 1991-1992. The same students, after implementation of the plan, would pay $2,640 for their senior year in 1994-1995, a 47 percent increase.

Under the graduated scale, students taking 15 credit hours would have a slightly lower increase from $1,800 in 1991-1992 to $2,475 in 1994-1995, a 38 percent increase.

Next year, two years into the three-year plan, the credit hour charge under the plan will be up to $66. Added to the $1,980 cost of the first 12 credit hours, next year’s tuition for a student taking 16 credit hours both semesters will be $2,508—an 11 percent increase over last year’s $2,244.