Officials: student fees to increase, will aid campus services

University administrators and representatives met with students Monday evening in the Pine Lounge to discuss proposed increases to student fees for the 2011 fiscal year.

“This meeting is an opportunity for students to look at proposed fee increases, as well a way for administrators and officials to garner feedback from the students,” said Student Trustee Matt Reschke.

Student fees, including general fees and health service fees, are projected to increase 1.86 percent overall for FY 2011, said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Renee Romano. This would amount to $766, which is a $14 dollar increase from FY 2010.

The fees pay for maintenance services, such as the cost to supply H1N1 vaccinations, Romano said. The increases are in response to growing costs of upkeep and campus services, such as the Leadership Center and Career Center.

“We try and keep the total increase at a minimum,” she added. “We know that families are struggling with everything these days.”

Room and board is also projected to increase 4.6 percent to accommodate the growing costs of services and food, Romano said.

Interim Chancellor and Provost Robert Easter attributed the growing expenses to the current state of finances in Illinois overall.

“The state financial situation is difficult,” Easter said. “State appropriations for the University are down to $250 million with $19 million coming from federal stimulus money. Those are one time funds.”

Easter said there is also a possibility of future cuts in programs and funding.

Additionally, tuition increase amounts are uncertain. Easter and Romano said next year’s tuition amount will not be known until June or July. The amount will only affect incoming students.

For current students, tuition rates are frozen at the time they enroll in the University, Easter said.

Romano said she felt that this guarantee of a frozen tuition rate was uncommon for many schools across the country.

“The fact that there is a guaranteed tuition for all four years is something we take for granted, but it is a really powerful thing,” she said.

Despite the guarantees of a frozen tuition rate, some students said they are concerned about the University’s belief about being an affordable institution for a variety of people.

“I want to get more information on how the University plans to maintain accessibility to all groups of people, especially rural and lower income groups,” said student Patty Garcia.

Easter said despite these uncertainties, the University will work to overcome its financial problems.

“It’s our ambition to provide the quality education that you can only find at the quality research institution,” he added.