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that, typically, the universities have
raised those charges for full-time
students by seven or eight percent
both this year and last. By far the
largest jump was last year’s 29
percent at Chicago State University,
the result of an increase in its per-
hour rate and a decision to start
charging students for credit hours
up to 15 instead of 12.
For those same reasons, while
the other state universities pegged
their first guaranteed tuition at a median of 16 percent over
their previous single-year rates, Chicago State’s jumped 45
This year all of the universities raised guaranteed rates
over last year’s, generally between eight and ten percent.
Northeastern Illinois University set the pace with a jump of
29 percent.
Vice President Wilcockson describes this as an anomaly,
reflecting the university’s needs to make up for underpricing
itself last year and to replenish a “resource base” eroded by
years of striving to charge the lowest public university tuition
in the state. Now eighth out of 12 statewide, Northeastern
remains the lowest-tuition public university in the Chicago
The University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign and
Chicago campuses remain the price leaders, first and second,
respectively, among the state’s 12 university campuses.
While tuition percentage increases on both campuses have
been middling these last couple of years, they have come on
top of bases swollen by a $1,000-a-year tuition surcharge
the university imposed on each undergraduate on the two
campuses in 2002 and then made permanent. The university
earmarked a portion of the proceeds for redistribution to
low-income students whose MAP grants were coming up
ever shorter of tuition costs.
The university’s budget for need-based aid has continued
to grow— to $24 million this year from $2 million in 2000—
as the university deliberately has shifted to what Kangas
described as a high-tuition/high-aid policy. Just as at private
universities, he said, “Increasingly, the tuition you’re paying
out of pocket (at the University of Illinois) is based on your
ability to pay.” Despite a sheaf of national studies in recent
years suggesting that skyrocketing tuitions are pricing lower-
income students out of college, Kangas said he’s always on the
lookout for evidence of that happening at the University of
Illinois but has yet to find it.
The proof, Kangas believes, is in Pell grants. “If you look
at the number of Pell recipients versus the total number
of undergraduates, it hasn’t changed in 20 years,” he said.
Though those numbers bounce around from year to year,
they stay within a “pretty predictable range” of, for instance,
17 percent at the Urbana-Champaign campus.
Clearly, the tuition hasn’t discouraged applicants overall.
This fall the flagship campus overshot its 7,000 target by
Tuitions and Fees Rising in Illinois
February 2008
ince the guaranteed four-year tuition, or “Truth in
Tuition,” plan was adopted four years ago, undergraduate costs at
Illinois’ 12 public universities have been increasing steadily.
“The only ‘truth’ is that tuition keeps rising,” a former state education
official said.
Charges (tuition plus mandatory fees) for entering freshmen at the
University of Illinois flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign jumped
from $7,010 in the 2004-05 academic year to $11,130 in 2007-08,
the Illinois Board of Higher Education reported. At Southern Illinois
University-Carbondale, the price increased from $5,521 to $8,893.
Resident undergraduate tuition at Urbana-Champaign is fifth
highest among the 50 state flagship campuses, according to the annual
survey by the Washington (state) Higher Education Coordinating
Board. Charges at Illinois comprehensive colleges and universities are
fourth highest in the nation.
Community college tuition and mandatory fee charges remain
modest, averaging slightly more than $2,300 per year.
A student who enrolled at the Urbana-Champaign campus in fall
2004, when the “truth” plan began, paid $6,460 per year, a rate that
would remain the same for eight semesters. But the same student,
entering in fall 2007, paid $8,440, or $7,290 more over four years.
The plan guarantees that tuition is fixed for eight consecutive
semesters. But many entering freshmen at Illinois public institutions
do not graduate in four years or even in five or six. The four-year
graduation rate at Urbana-Champaign is 62.5 percent, according to
campus officials. The five-year graduation rate is 79.2 percent; the six-
year rate is 81.9 percent. The six-year graduation rate at Illinois State
University is 63.3 percent. At Chicago State University it is only 15.8
Each campus decides howmuch to charge students for an extra
year or two. Many have chosen to charge students at the same rate they
would have paid had they entered in 2005-06, the second year of the
new policy.
In addition, there have been sharp increases in mandatory fees,
which are not covered by Truth in Tuition, which now run as high as
$1,987 at Carbondale and $2,962 at
the University of Illinois-Chicago.
At Urbana-Champaign there
are seven mandatory fees for all
undergraduates, even more for
those majoring in agriculture,
business, engineering and some
other fields. These include not
only the usual charges for health
services and the student union
but also an “academic facilities
maintenance fund assessment,”
to repair and maintain academic
buildings. Campus officials say
this is needed because the state
has provided no capital budget for
several years.
The tuition and fee increases
Charges for entering
freshmen at the
University of Illinois
flagship campus in
jumped from $7,010
in the 2004-05
academic year to
$11,130 in 2007-08.
Illinois’ guaranteed
tuition plan is, almost of
necessity, front-loaded,
with underclassmen
paying more than their
fair share of costs.