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transportation and recreation—are also beyond the law’s
reach, automatically adding anywhere from a few hundred to
a couple of thousand dollars to students’ bills.
Special fees for any number of special-case programs
and courses further serve to up students’ ante. These extra
charges peeve PamDuffield, a 21-year-old senior art student
at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. She offers the
example of a silk screening class, which, besides an $85
signup fee, cost her $140 for supplies.
As for tuition, what used to be singular is becoming more
and more confusingly plural at Illinois’ state universities.
In complying with the law, all have moved, airline-like, to
differential pricing—different rates for different students,
depending on when they first enrolled. This year all of the
campuses are posting at least two fixed rates for in-state
undergraduates—one for brand new students and one for
last year’s entrants.
As Colleen Schloemann noted somewhat wistfully, her
family’s sophomore goddaughter at Urbana-Champaign is
locked into an annual rate hundreds of dollars lower than
daughter Greta’s—$6,460 to be exact.
Lastly, all of the universities now post a separate rate for
those generally referred to as “continuing” students, the ones
who enrolled before the tuition law went into effect. In time,
students who have outstayed their guarantees will be lumped
into this catch-all tuition category.
For two years now, continuing students have been paying
the least, the newest students the most, their premiums this
year ranging from eight to 31 percent. But being subject
to annual increases, continuing students are projected to
eventually lose their advantage to upperclassmen on flat
Time—specifically another two years—will tell. By
then, the law will be fully phased in and today’s freshmen
and sophomores will be juniors and seniors. All of the
universities’ schedules will look something like Western
Illinois’, with different prices
for each of the last four years
for new students. Western even
goes so far as to maintain all of
its fixed rates for continuously
enrolled students all the way
back to the 2000 rate—$2,730,
compared with $4,968 for this
year’s freshmen.
Whether the other
universities will keep their
fixed rates in effect beyond the
requisite four years remains to
be seen.
The politicians who settled
for Truth in Tuition never
claimed it satisfied their original
goal of reining in tuition. Even
Blagojevich, signing the law as
governor in 2003, hailed it as
a boon for parents, “a binding
contract that locks in the cost
of tuition.” That same year he
signed a state budget that cut higher education spending by
$147 million, or 5.5 percent.
Truth to tell, while insulating successive classes of new
students against tuition-bill trauma, the law has done nothing
to brake the long-term tuition trend, which continues
upward without letup.
Even with the new four-year rates clouding what used to
be a transparent tuition picture, it is still possible to track the
trend in something like the old-fashioned way. Just look at
what has been happening to the universities’ prices for those
continuing students, the equivalent of the one-size-fits-all
tuitions of old.
Data from the Illinois Board of Higher Education show
James L. Kaplan, chairman of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, thinks
prospects for more funding are “semi-favorable.”
Trends in Tuition at Illinois Public Universities
(1) 2001-02 single tuition; (2) 2005-06 continuing rate; (3) 2005-06 four-year fixed rate
Chicago State University
Eastern Illinois University
Governors State University
Illinois State University
Northeastern Illinois University
Northern Illinois University
Western Illinois University
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville
University of Illinois-Chicago
University of Illinois–Springfield
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
* for an in-state undergraduate taking 30 credit hours a year
**All students at Western Illinois University have been on a guaranteed rate without a time limit since 2000.
Source: Illinois Board of Higher Education