University faces decline in state funding as tuition rises

Students at the University are all too familiar with the effects of declining state funding for higher education, but they are not alone.

The College Board released a report on Oct. 28 which shows a 7.9 percent increase in public university tuition across the nation.

Sandy Baum, co-author of the College Board Trends Reports, said in an e-mail that decline in state support was why this tuition increase was a trend in public universities nationwide.

“State budgets are very tight and state appropriations per student at public colleges have been declining, while enrollments have been rising. Institutions are replacing some of these revenues with higher tuition,” Baum said.

Baum also said tuition has always been on the increase, and universities are having problems with amassing productivity.

“State appropriations always decline during recessions and recover at least partially when the economy recovers. That said, tuition has been rising faster than the prices of other goods and services for many years,” Baum said. “This can be explained largely by the difficulty in increasing productivity – producing the same amount of education with fewer labor hours without reducing quality.”

Illinois proves to be one of those many public institutions across the nation that had to raise its tuition due to a decrease in state funding. Randy Kangas, assistant vice president for planning and budgeting, said tuition faced a 9.5 percent increase from the previous school year, although the tuition a student pays his or her first year is set for the next three years for a student going through the typical four-year plan. So annually the tuition increase is 3.7 percent.

Kangas said the University is facing a recent decline in state funding.

“State support over the last eight, nine years has diminished. The direct appropriation is down well over $130 million dollars. In fact, our direct appropriation today for the University is below where it was in fiscal (year) 1999,” Kangas said. “This past year, we had a 6.2 percent reduction, about a $46 million dollar reduction, in state support this past year.”

Kangas also said the University has $310 million dollars in unpaid vouchers from the state as of Wednesday. He added that the state has paid the University nothing on the current year appropriation despite being into the fifth month of the fiscal year.

Other public universities, such as the University of Wisconsin, have been faced with tuition hikes due to Wisconsin’s decline in university funding. David Giroux, executive director of communications for the University of Wisconsin, said the four-year institutions within the Wisconsin system have seen a 5.5 percent increase in their tuition rates this year.

“Years ago, the University of Wisconsin charged students tuition that covered roughly about 40 percent of what it costs us to educate them. So the tuition that a student paid covered about 40 cents of every dollar that it costs us to teach them and give them their degree. The state picked up the remaining 60 percent,” Giroux said. “Today, that number has flip-flopped. Students’ tuition covers about 60 percent, and the state is subsidizing 40 percent. So that’s the result of relatively flat-state funding that hasn’t kept up with the increasing cost of doing business.”