Board of Trustees approves 2% increase to room and board fees

Rates+for+New+Hall+and+Northern+View+are+considered+separately.++Source%3A+Dec.+10+Board+of+Trustees+Agenda.+

Kierra Frazier

Rates for New Hall and Northern View are considered separately. Source: Dec. 10 Board of Trustees Agenda.

Kierra Frazier, Managing Editor

DeKALB – Starting Fall 2021 room and board fees at the university will increase 2%, approximately $100, per semester following the approval by the Board of Trustees at Thursday’s meeting. 

Each year, the university brings forward to the Board of Trustees three pricing recommendations related to student fees, room and board fees and tuition. 

NIU President Lisa Freeman said tuition was not brought forward because of the “continued uncertainty related to our fiscal 22 state appropriation and the magnitude and scope of federal COVID relief.” 

Freeman said the increases to room and board fees are necessary to address the increased costs of expenses such as contractual services, software support and general operating expenses.

“The university has been very mindful of affordability after a 1% increase between fiscal year 17 and 18,” Freeman said. “The average rate was held steady for three years and this was achieved by offsetting increases in rates associated with halls that experienced improvements with decreases in rates associated with halls that were not renovated.” 

For a double occupancy room in Gilbert Hall, Grant Towers and Stevenson Towers in 2017, room and board fees totaled $5,388, according to a presentation shown at Thursday’s meeting. In 2018, the fees increased to $5,440 and remained steady. 

Rates for New Hall and Northern View are considered separately and are not included in the recommendation that was approved Thursday. 

Rates for New Hall and Northern View are established by the terms of the partnership with the Collegiate Housing Foundation rather than by annual university recommendation and board approval, Freeman said. 

FY22 student fees 

Board members also approved an overall decrease of 70 cents per credit hour in student fees starting Fall 2021. Freeman said the decrease was consistent with the university’s commitment to affordability.

Student fees for undergraduates, graduates and law students are typically broken down into six categories: athletic, student support services, university advancement, graduate program support, law program support and graduate and law technology surcharge. 

Starting Fall 2021, students will also pay a new fee focused on cultural diversity programming that will cost 80 cents per credit hour. 

The new fee will be used for programming, such as speaker series films, exhibits, celebrations and special events that will be open to all students and programs by diversity resource centers, Freeman said. 

“We need to be able to have a funding stream that allows our cultural diversity centers to hold larger, more inclusive events, and for more events to be planned deliberately at the intersections of identity for our students,” Freeman said. 

Freeman said the new fee will generate around $280,000 a year based on how many students take 12 credit hours a semester.

Vernese Edghill-Walden, vice president for academic diversity, equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, said the cultural center directors and students were involved in the discussion of the new student fee. 

“This has definitely been a group and a team effort and a collaboration that was so needed, and I think it will definitely benefit all of the students at NIU, but I think also the students that are looking for ways to affirm their identity outside of the classroom,” Edghill-Walden said. 

Trustee Robert Pritchard said the new fee aligns the university with its vision, mission and values.

FY22 university budget request

The board also approved a request for a $98.97 million university budget for FY22. The submitted request goes onto the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget to be approved. 

For FY21, which started July 1, NIU received $87.8 million, according to the Dec. 10 Board of Trustee agenda

State funding for FY22 will also help support several initiatives on campus such as data science programs, nursing education, expanded support for student services and transdisciplinary research.