U of I recommends no base tuition increase for in-state freshmen
Proposed freeze would hold rates steady for second straight year
January 20, 2016 Tweet this | Share on Facebook
CHICAGO – For the second straight year, the University of Illinois has proposed holding the line on base tuition for in-state freshmen next fall, a move that officials say reflects the University’s commitment to student access and affordability.
The University also is recommending that mandatory student fees remain at current levels, excluding a $4 annual increase on the Urbana-Champaign campus for transportation services that were approved in a student referendum.
Combined, base tuition and fees for in-state freshmen would remain flat in Chicago and Springfield and would increase by less than 0.1 percent in Urbana-Champaign. For the 2015-16 academic year, tuition and fees rose by an average 2.9 percent at the nation’s four-year public colleges and by 3.5 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.
President Tim Killeen said the recommendations come despite uncertainty over state funding, which together with tuition provides the bulk of support for the University’s academic programs and day-to-day operations. An ongoing budget impasse has shut off state funding since July and the University could face significant cuts when a spending plan is approved.
“Our financial challenges cannot detract from our core mission – opening our doors wide to provide the opportunities that propel students into life and supply the human capital that is critical to move our state forward,” Killeen said.
The proposals will be reviewed Wednesday by the Board of Trustees’ Academic and Student Affairs Committee and then will go to the full board at its meeting Thursday in Chicago, along with recommended housing rates on the University’s three campuses for the 2016-17 academic year.
If approved, incoming in-state freshmen would pay no base tuition increase for the second straight year and the rate would remain unchanged for four years under the state’s guaranteed tuition law.
Christophe Pierre, vice president for academic affairs, said holding rates to 2015-16 levels will help keep the University competitive with peer institutions and also bolster efforts to enroll more Illinois students. After last fall’s tuition freeze, enrollment of in-state freshmen across the University’s three campuses increased by 10.2 percent, from 10,272 to 11,315.
Pierre said high tuition is a special burden for middle-class Illinois students whose family incomes are not low enough to qualify for federal or state financial aid, but not high enough to cover costs on their own.
Tuition increases at the U of I have been trending downward. Last fall’s in-state tuition freeze was the first since 1993-94 and followed two straight years of 1.7 percent increases that tracked with the rate of inflation and were the smallest in nearly two decades.
Under the proposal, base tuition for in-state students next fall would match rates for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years – $12,036 a year in Urbana-Champaign, $10,584 in Chicago, and $9,405 in Springfield. On the Chicago campus, a tuition differential would increase by $180 a year for all freshmen enrolled in business administration. The differential helps fund two centers supported by students to develop job skills.
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.
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.
Officials said the University hopes to hold future tuition increases to the rate of inflation or below, but cautioned that reductions in state funding and other factors could lead to more significant increases.
Base tuition also would stay at current levels next fall for most out-of-state and international freshman on the Springfield campus. In Chicago, most out-of-state rates also would remain unchanged, and a new program would offer reduced rates for some high-achieving students. International students in Chicago would see a $1,000 increase. Out-of-state and international students would pay an inflation-related 1.7 percent increase in Urbana-Champaign.
The committee also will review proposed student fees and room-and-board rates for the 2016-17 academic year.
Proposed student fees exclude student health insurance rates, an optional fee that is typically established in March. The mandatory fees that will be 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.
Those fees would remain at current levels in Chicago, at $3,092 a year, and in Springfield, at $2,016 a year. On the Urbana-Champaign campus, fees will increase 0.1 percent, or $4, to $3,022 a year, to support transportation services through the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District that were approved in a student referendum.
Undergraduate room-and-board costs at the Urbana campus, based on the standard double-occupancy room and meal plan, would increase 2.7 percent, or $280, to $10,612 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 would increase 2.2 percent, or $232, to $10,960 per year. At the Springfield campus, the cost for a double-occupancy room and meal plan would increase 0.7 percent, or $50, to $7,400 per year.
The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 80,000 students, more than 24,000 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.
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