U of I approves no base tuition increase for in-state freshmen
Trustees cite affordability; hold rates flat for second straight year
January 21, 2016 Tweet this | Share on Facebook
CHICAGO – The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday approved no increase in base tuition for in-state freshmen next fall – holding rates steady for the second straight year despite continuing uncertainty over state funding.
Mandatory student fees also will remain at current levels, excluding a $4 annual increase on the Urbana-Champaign campus for transportation services that were approved in a student referendum. Room-and-board rates will rise by about $300 or less on the University’s three campuses.
Combined, base tuition and fees for in-state freshmen will remain flat in Chicago and Springfield and 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 University has held down student costs for the last four years despite ongoing financial challenges, including a budget impasse that has shut off state funding since July and threats of significant reductions in state support once a spending plan is approved.
“Our highest priority is our students, ensuring access to a high-quality education that will transform their lives and supply the 21st century workforce that is essential to drive progress and prosperity for our state and nation,” Killeen said.
Tuition rates will remain unchanged for four years under the state’s guaranteed tuition law, 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.
Trustees said the freeze reflects the University’s commitment to student access and affordability. The in-state tuition freezes of the last two years follow two straight years of 1.7 percent increases that tracked with the rate of inflation and were the smallest increases in nearly two decades.
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 and 2015-16 academic years – $12,036 a year in Urbana-Champaign, $10,584 in Chicago, and $9,406 in Springfield. On the Chicago campus, a tuition differential for all freshmen enrolled in business administration would increase by $180 a year. The differential helps fund two centers supported by students to develop job skills. There will 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 reductions in state funding and other factors could lead to more significant increases.
Base tuition also will 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 will remain unchanged, and a new program will offer reduced rates for some high-achieving students. International students in Chicago will see a $1,000 increase. Out-of-state and international students will pay an inflation-related 1.7 percent increase in Urbana-Champaign.
The board also approved student fees and room-and-board rates for the 2016-17 academic year.
Student fees approved Thursday exclude optional 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.
Those fees will 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, will 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 will 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 will increase 0.7 percent, or $50, to $7,400 per year.
Fiscal 2017 funding request
Trustees also approved the University’s request for state operating funds for fiscal 2017, which begins July 1, 2016. The proposal seeks $662.1 million, equal to the last appropriation approved for the University in fiscal 2015.
The request is the first step in the required annual budget process, and will be submitted to the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the State of Illinois for consideration.
The University typically submits annual funding requests in September, but delayed action because the state has not yet adopted a budget for the current fiscal year. State funding for the University has been shut off for nearly seven months because of an impasse over a spending for the fiscal year that began last July.
Officials say the hold-the-line funding request recognizes the financial challenges facing the state. The University sought a $40.3 million increase for the current fiscal year, but the governor and legislators each proposed reductions in their still-unresolved budget plans.
The fiscal 2017 budget request also seeks $553.5 million in capital funding, which would largely be used to repair and renovate aging facilities on the University’s three campuses.
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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