Some face larger tuition increase

By Eric Chima

Out-of-state students will be hit harder than Illinois residents by next fall’s tuition increase, leading some to question the fairness of the hike.

While new in-state students are facing a $600 increase, incoming out-of-state students will pay nearly $1,800 of raised rates, according to data provided by Chester Gardner, the University’s vice president of student affairs.

Out-of-state students pay higher rates because in-state students pay taxes to the state, which trickle down to the University.

But the size of the disparity has not settled well with Brian Fisher, sophomore in LAS and president of the Out-of-State Student Alliance, which promotes social activities for and awareness of students from outside of Illinois.

“The reason they need to raise tuition is because the state isn’t raising their funding,” Fisher said. “So if the money from taxes isn’t coming down, a tuition increase should be the same for everybody.”

Since the 1970s, out-of-state tuition has been three times what in-state students pay, Gardner said. As tuition is raised, the difference between in-state and out-of-state rates rise as well.

Although the University’s Board of Trustees has the final say on tuition, a University Senate tuition advisory committee makes recommendations to the University and board. Associate Provost Bill Adams said the committee has been examining the issue of out-of-state tuition.

Adams said the current 3-to-1 ratio between out-of-state and in-state tuition is “probably too high.”

Only one out of the nine students on the committee is not an Illinois resident. Both Adams and Fisher expressed a desire to see more out-of-state students in the group.

“We want to feel like they’re listening and taking us into consideration,” Fisher said. “A lot of the things they’re saying are the same things they said last year, but nothing changed.”

Because the tuition rates for next year are fixed already, any changes recommended by the committee and passed by the Board of Trustees would not take effect until fall 2006.

Despite the increase, Gardner said, the University is making efforts to cater to out-of-state students, including a plan that would fix tuition rates for incoming freshmen for their first four years in school. State law already fixes tuition rates for incoming in-state freshmen.

Gardner estimated that all current non-freshmen at the University would likely face tuition increases of about 7 percent per year for the rest of their college careers. For out-of-state students, that would mean hikes of $1,500 or more each year.

“Everybody says that tuition for higher education is rising faster than inflation,” Gardner said. “But what they overlook is that government support is not keeping pace with inflation.”

Fisher said the higher tuition rates could scare off out-of-state students that might otherwise come to the University. Gardner said that the quality of the programs would bring just as many students.

According to Gardner, Illinois ranks fourth in the Big Ten in both in-state and out-of-state tuition rates. That is little consolation to Fisher, who said out-of-state students tend to get overlooked.

“People get a survey asking for a 7 percent tuition increase, and they think it’s only a few hundred dollars and say sure,” Fisher said. “They don’t realize that for out-of-state students – it’s a lot of money.”