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January 30, 2019


U of I System recommends extending in-state tuition freeze
Proposal would hold resident undergraduate rates flat for fifth straight year

CHICAGO – The University of Illinois System has proposed extending a tuition freeze for in-state freshmen to a fifth straight year next fall, its longest run of back-to-back freezes in more than a half-century, President Tim Killeen announced today.

The hold-the-line tuition recommendation for Illinois freshmen at the system’s universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield will be reviewed Thursday by the Board of Trustees’ Academic and Student Affairs Committee, which pushed back its meeting from Wednesday because of sub-zero temperatures. The proposal, which also includes inflation-adjusted increases or less for non-resident undergraduates, will go to the full board at its meeting Thursday in Chicago.

Killeen said the proposals reflect a commitment to access and affordability that have helped drive up system-wide enrollment by 7,420 students, or 9.4 percent, to a record 85,960 since the fall of 2014, when in-state tuition last increased.

That includes 3,345 more Illinois undergraduates, which increased 7.8 percent across the system from the fall of 2014 to the fall of 2018. The in-state tuition freeze has helped the U of I System lead efforts to halt an outmigration to colleges in other states, a long-term threat to the Illinois economy because studies show that graduates typically stay to work in the state where they study.

“This proposal helps to keep our doors open wide to Illinois students, providing a world-class education that will change their lives and expand a crucial pipeline of talent that already sends more than 22,000 new graduates into the workforce every year,” Killeen said.

If approved, the ongoing tuition freeze would be the longest run of flat rates for in-state students since a seven-year freeze from 1962 to 1968.

“We are grateful for the buy-in at all levels across our universities, and the thoughtful budgeting that has extended this important affordability initiative and expanded academic quality at the same time,” said Barbara Wilson, the system’s executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs.

Tuition rates for incoming students from Illinois remain unchanged for four years under the state’s guaranteed tuition law. That measure was enacted in 2004 to help students and families plan for the cost of a public university education by fixing tuition rates for the four years required to complete most undergraduate degree programs.

Because of the guaranteed tuition law, Killeen said in-state students who enroll next fall would pay the same rate for their senior year in 2022-23 as students who enrolled in the fall of 2014 – nearly a decade earlier.

Nationwide, tuition and fees rose by an average 2.5 percent at four-year public colleges and universities for the 2018-19 academic year, based on the latest survey by the College Board, a non-profit association representing U.S. colleges and universities.

During the first four years of the U of I System’s freeze, tuition and fees increased by a cumulative average of 11.8 percent among four-year public colleges and universities, according to the College Board.

Base tuition for in-state undergraduates next fall would match rates that have held steady since the 2014-15 academic year – $12,036 a year in Urbana-Champaign, $10,584 in Chicago, and $9,405 in Springfield. There also would be no change to undergraduate tuition differentials at any of the universities. Differentials cover the additional costs of providing the highest-quality education in selected areas of study.

For out-of-state and international freshmen, tuition would increase to keep pace with inflation under the proposal. Rates would increase by 2 percent or less next fall in Urbana-Champaign and in Chicago. Rates for all non-resident freshmen would remain unchanged in Springfield.

Tuition for several graduate and professional programs would increase in Urbana-Champaign and Chicago, most by 2 percent or less, but would remain at current levels in Springfield.

Rates also were proposed for the John Marshall Law School, a private college that is in the final stages of approval to become part of the University of Illinois at Chicago next fall, creating the city’s first public law school. Tuition for a juris doctor degree would be $36,000 annually for in-state residents, and $45,000 for non-residents. As a private institution, John Marshall currently charges nearly $47,000 annually, regardless of residency.

Killeen said the commitment to student affordability and access was reaffirmed in a Strategic Framework for the system that was adopted in 2016, setting high-aspiration goals to build on service to students and the public good.

Along with freezing tuition, the U of I System has ramped up internal efforts to protect the most financially vulnerable students. Over the last decade, total institutional financial aid – including tuition waivers, grants, scholarships and fellowships – has increased almost threefold to $231 million a year, exceeding total aid from state and federal sources. Through state, federal, university and donor-provided financial aid, half of undergraduates pay less than full sticker price across the system’s three universities.

Undergraduate fees/housing

The committee and board also will review proposed mandatory student fees and room-and-board rates for the 2019-20 academic year during Thursday’s meetings.

The fee proposals exclude student health insurance rates, which will be set in the spring. Fees reviewed by the committee help fund costs such as operating campus recreational facilities, student unions, career services, athletics, counseling centers and libraries, and also help with facility maintenance, renovations and utilities.

If approved by trustees, those mandatory fees would remain unchanged in Springfield at $2,426 a year. Fees would increase 0.9 percent, or $28, to $3,086 a year in Urbana-Champaign. In Chicago, fees would increase 3.6 percent, or $116, to $3,308 a year, largely to finance debt service for expansion and remodeling of campus student centers.

Proposed undergraduate room-and-board costs would increase 1.5 percent for the 2019-2020 academic year in Urbana-Champaign after two years with no increases. The standard double-occupancy room and meal plan would increase by $162 to $10,774 per year. Similar to the guaranteed four-year tuition policy, room-and-board costs in Urbana-Champaign are locked in for up to four years if students continue to live in campus residence halls.

In Chicago, the cost for a standard double-occupancy room and meal plan would increase 1.7 percent, or $190, to $11,260 per year. In Springfield, a standard housing and gold meal plan would remain unchanged at $10,810 per year.

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The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, and the largest educational institution in the state with nearly 86,000 students, about 25,000 faculty and staff, and universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 22,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.