The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

GEO again upset with University over tuition waiver policy

The Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) will be holding a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday night at the University YMCA to address changes to the tuition waiver policy for certain programs in the College of Fine and Applied Arts (FAA), according to a press release on the GEO website.

It has been less than a year since the GEO and the University Board of Trustees reached a contractual agreement to protect tuition waivers and increase other benefits for graduate students. The agreement was reached after a strike that lasted two days and stopped instruction in some courses in November.

According to the graduate college website, which has the tuition waiver policy for the 2010-11 academic year, students in several programs in FAA will no longer be given a full tuition waiver, but instead be given a base-rate waiver.

“The base-rate waiver would cover the in-state assessment, which can vary from program to program, but not the non-resident portion.” said Deborah Richie, executive assistant dean of the graduate college.

Natalie Uhl, communications officer for the GEO, said the difference out-of-state students would have to pay each year after receiving a base-rate waiver is approximately $13,000. Uhl said the GEO believes the change in policy is a violation of the contract the GEO agreed to with the University.

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“Our committee has filed a grievance regarding the change,” she said.

University spokeswoman Robin Kaler said the University continues to honor its contract with graduate students, and the campus is doing everything possible to maintain financial stability while offering students the best possible funding package.

Richie said tuition waiver changes in a particular program or a particular college only affect students that are entering the program in Fall 2010.

“Students already enrolled in the program will be covered by the previous policy,” she said.

Kerry Pimblott, member of the grievance committee, said the University was not being honest.

“The University said that they would not change their policy on tuition waivers,” Pimblott said. “It is absolutely unacceptable that no one from the University contacted us about the change.”

Robert Graves, dean of FAA, said all incoming students affected by changes were offered scholarships that make up for most or all of the difference between full and base-rate tuition waivers.

“Offer letters sent to applicants last spring addressed these financial implications individually,” Graves said.

The tuition waivers plus scholarships awarded to incoming students in FAA would be approximately $22,000 to $23,000, depending on which program students are matriculating to.

Uhl said she knows FAA would be covering the difference with a scholarship but noted the scholarships are not guaranteed.

“Presumably in the future, the students would be required to pay that difference. It is ostensibly a way to generate revenue,” Uhl said.

Graves said he assured incoming students that scholarships accounting for the difference between full and base-rate tuition waivers would continue for students, providing that they are making progress toward graduation and remain in good standing.

Pimblott, who was also a lead negotiator for the GEO during previous contract negotiations, said the changes to the FAA tuition waiver policy proves that last fall’s strike was necessary. She said she believes that with less tuition-waivers, enrollment in FAA programs will drop. She added that it was an attack on the arts.

Graves said that, historically, the college has provided competitive assistantship packages in order to recruit the best students, and will continue to do so. He added that the policy changes are not an attack on the arts and did not come from the campus level but were a decision by individual departments in FAA.

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