No base tuition increase for in-state, U of I freshmen
Trustees cite affordability; hold rate flat for the first time in more than 20 years
January 15, 2015
CHICAGO – The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday approved no increase in base tuition for in-state freshmen next fall – holding year-to-year rates steady for the first time in more than 20 years. Tuition for incoming freshmen is guaranteed under state law to remain fixed for four years.
Trustees also approved student fee and housing rates for the 2015-16 academic year that will increase fees by less than $50 annually, excluding a student health insurance fee that will be set next spring. Room-and-board rates will rise by $210 or less on the University’s three campuses.
Combined, costs of base tuition, fees and housing for in-state freshmen will increase 0.7 percent in Urbana-Champaign, 0.4 percent in Springfield and 1 percent in Chicago. Tuition differentials in five academic units on the Chicago campus will increase modestly, but there will be no differential increases for other Chicago units or in any units on the Urbana-Champaign and Springfield campuses.
In-state freshmen will pay no base tuition increase for the first time since 1993-94 while rates will increase by an inflation-related 2 percent for non-Illinois residents. Those rates will remain unchanged for four years under the state’s guaranteed tuition law. The tuition guarantee was launched 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.
President Robert Easter said no base tuition increase will help keep the university competitive with peer institutions and ease the financial burden on students, including those from families with incomes that are not low enough to qualify for federal or state financial aid, but not high enough to cover costs on their own.
“Holding tuition rates steady reflects our ongoing commitment to our students and our land-grant mission – providing an affordable, high-quality education to the children of all classes,” Easter said.
Next fall’s hold-the-line rate follows two straight years of 1.7 percent increases that tracked with the rate of inflation and were the smallest increases in nearly two decades. Those increases were approved under an inflation-neutral tuition-setting policy enacted by trustees in 2011 that aims to hold down student costs by limiting increases to cost-of-living indices or below, barring significant reductions in state funding or other University support.
Over the last decade, the University also has ramped up internal efforts to protect the most financially vulnerable students, increasing institutional financial aid more than fourfold to $84 million annually. Through state, federal, University and donor-provided financial aid, half of undergraduates pay less than full sticker price across its three campuses.
Base tuition for in-state students next fall will match rates for the 2014-15 academic year – $12,036 a year in Urbana-Champaign, $10,584 in Chicago, and $9,405 in Springfield. On the Chicago campus, tuition differentials would increase by $50 to $170 a year for all freshmen enrolled in business administration, engineering, nursing, movement sciences/kinesiology and health information management. There would be no change in differentials for other Chicago academic units or on the Urbana-Champaign and Springfield campuses. Differentials cover the additional costs of providing the highest-quality education in selected areas of study.
Officials said the University hopes to hold future tuition increases to the rate of inflation or below, but cautioned that significant reductions in state funding and other factors could lead to larger increases.
In addition to promoting affordability, the University’s tuition-setting policy calls for the board to lock in rates early in the year rather than in the spring. By setting tuition in January, trustees aim to make the planning process easier on families and allow more time to firm up financial aid.
The board also approved adjustments to student fees and room-and-board rates for the 2015-16 academic year.
Proposed student fees exclude student health insurance rates, which are typically established in March. Fees approved by the board 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.
At the Urbana campus, those fees will increase 1.1 percent, or $34, to $3,018 per year, and Chicago’s fees will rise 1 percent, or $30, to $3,092 per year. At Springfield, fees will increase 2.3 percent, or $46, to $2,016 per year.
Base tuition and fees for in-state freshmen will increase by a combined 0.2 percent in Urbana and Chicago and by 0.4 percent in Springfield. For the 2013-14 academic year, tuition-and-fees rose by an average 2.9 percent at the nation’s four-year public colleges and by 3.7 percent at private, nonprofit four-year colleges, based on the latest survey by the College Board, a nonprofit association representing U.S. colleges and universities.
Undergraduate room-and-board costs at the Urbana campus, based on the standard double-occupancy room and meal plan, will increase 1.5 percent, or $152, to $10,332 per year. Similar to the guaranteed four-year tuition policy, room-and-board costs on the Urbana campus are locked in for up to four years if students continue to live in campus residence halls, a policy set by the campus.
At the Chicago campus, the cost for a double-occupancy room and standard meal plan will increase 2 percent, or $210, to $10,728 per year. At the Springfield campus, the cost for a double-occupancy room and meal plan would increase 0.5 percent, or $50, to $10,700 per year.
The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 78,000 students, more than 23,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.