SPRINGFIELD — University of Illinois trustees are expected to vote Wednesday to increase tuition, causing incoming students to pay 6.9 percent more for the fall semester than was charged last year.|
Other state universities may follow that lead and cover their own budget shortfalls with tuition increases.
State universities are getting less money and later payments from the state, making it difficult for schools to operate, said Robert Webb, vice chairman of Eastern Illinois University's Board of Trustees. Raising tuition may be necessary, he said.
"I would anticipate that there will be a tuition increase; I don't think it would be a large increase in terms of percentages," Webb said. "But of course, it only applies to the freshman class, and that would be a guaranteed rate for the next four years."
The state is about $65 million behind in payments to Northern Illinois University, which received its last payment on March 4, according to its website.
"Since 2002, the percentage of dollars appropriated by the state to state-funded institutions has diminished dramatically," said spokesman Brad Hoey. "Specifically, for Northern Illinois University in fiscal year 2011, we received a little under $101 million in state funding appropriations — $100.8 million — and that's back to 1999 levels."
The university's Board of Trustees meets this week to vote on student fee increases but won't discuss tuition hikes until spring, Hoey said.
Next month, Southern Illinois University's Board of Trustees likely will discuss the possibility of increasing tuition because schools have received less money from the state than in previous years, said spokesman David Gross.
"For Southern Illinois University, the last 11 years, (we've had a) 1.3 percent increase in state appropriations," Gross said. "We're essentially at 1999 levels."
As schools have been getting less state funding during the past decade, schools are considering other options to improve cash flows.
"Our choice is to either reduce course offerings or to raise tuition, and in the case of Western Illinois University," said Michael Houston, Board of Trustees chairman, "what we have chosen to do is to maintain the level of education that we have been providing rather than reduce it."
Tuition increases are a possible option for WIU, but the discussion won't be taken up this week, Houston said.
Illinois State University's Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet May 6, when the tuition will be considered, said spokesman Jay Groves.
"The president, after consultation with his administration and governance leadership, will make a recommendation to the board of trustees," Groves said. "The board will vote on that recommendation during their main meeting."
NIU officials are concerned with limited state funding to schools, so trustees have tuition increase on their minds, Hoey said.
"When you are talking about budget," Hoey said, "and when you are talking about being able to sustain your educational resources for the institution and make sure that the institution functions as it is accustomed to and that it flourishes, the discussions are very serious."