Cuts allow more course offerings

By Brian Slupski

NIU President John La Tourette said the enrollment reduction enabled the university to offer more courses and to reallocate resources.

NIU reduced its on-campus undergraduate enrollment this fall by 600 students due to the financial strains of the state.

La Tourette said the student reduction generated a savings of at least $780,000. He said $180,000 was used to offer more courses and course sections. The remaining $600,000 was used in reallocations and used to deal with last year’s budget cut.

The enrollment reduction was partially the result of increased admission criteria for students transferring from a two-year school.

Students transferring from a two-year school had to have at least a 2.55 grade point average, while four-year transfer students had to have a 2.4 GPA.

Board of Regents Chancellor Roderick Groves said both NIU and ISU are at the low-end of state support when judged by the number of students per budgetary resources.

He said a modest cutback in students helps increase quality in education by having smaller classrooms and greater availability of classes.

La Tourette said NIU is now trying to stabilize undergraduate on-campus enrollment at 17,250. He said even if there is another budget cut there should not be another enrollment reduction.

With NIU’s enrollment reduction and the double-digit percentage increase in tuition which was passed over the summer, there is some question whether NIU will be able to maintain its accessibility.

“Certainly a question mark whether we are making ourselves available at affordable prices.”

With the increase in tuition, more students are working and consequently taking fewer hours, this means it will take them longer to complete a four-year degree,” La Tourette said.

He said one factor affecting accessibility over the last 10 years has been the availability of financial aid.

He said families making up to $20,000 have traditionally had sufficient aid for higher education.

La Tourette said families making in excess of $20,000 have seen their aid limited and decline over the past ten years.

He said this is reflected in the number of commuting students NIU has. “A few years ago we had about 2,000 students

Commuting. We now have in excess of 4,000 commuters.

“Students now have to stay home to save money and work,” La Tourette said.