Board of Trustees approves new financial aid policies, requests funding for campus projects

By Daily Illini Staff Report

The Board of Trustees passed its budget for the 2015 fiscal year, changed financial aid policies and approved appointment-related solutions affecting the Urbana campus at its Thursday, Sept. 11 meeting. 

Financial aid policies 

The Board voted to amend the University’s financial aid policy and guidelines to meet the recommendations of a June 2013 University audit, according to a resolution. The guidelines were changed to reduce restrictions on financial aid, ensuring that the University’s level of aid increases at the same rate as its tuition. They also introduced new accountability requirements for these guidelines, which would review the supplemental financial aid budget on a yearly basis. 

The University plans to spend $84 million on financial aid this year, an increase of $16 million from 2013. The increased level of funding is a result of an increase in the tuition rate by 1.7 percent, which was approved by the Board in January.

University spokesman Tom Hardy hopes the new level of financial aid will help the University retain more accepted students. In fall 2014, 34.8 percent of students admitted decided to enroll. 

Budget for 2015 fiscal year 

The Board approved a $4.5 billion operating budget for fiscal year 2015, a $69.5 million, or 1.6 percent, increase from fiscal year 2014. 

The budget includes a $35 million, or 1.7 percent, increase to unrestricted funds, and a $34.5 million, or 1.4 percent, increase in restricted funds from the 2014 fiscal year.

The Trustees also voted to approve the University’s request to the State for new operating and capital appropriations for fiscal year 2016. 

Appropriations request

The University will request an additional $40.3 million in state funding, a 2.3 percent increase from fiscal year 2015’s level of state appropriations. According to Hardy, the University will receive roughly $660 million in direct revenue annually from Illinois. 

The appropriations request emphasizes the University’s need to maintain competitive salaries for faculty and staff, which are financed in part by state funds. Additionally, the request maintains the University’s current effort to procure increased amounts of maintenance resources and aims to meet increasing operating costs.

The capital appropriations request includes budget requests for ten University projects that would receive state funds. The highest priority will go to general repairs and renovations and is budgeted at $33.6 million for the Urbana campus. The collective budget for repairs and renovations on all three University campuses totals $60 million.

The request includes capital requests for five additional projects on the Urbana campus, including: $40 million for Altgeld and Illini Hall renovations, $50 million for redevelopment in the Main and Undergraduate libraries, $15 million for the Cultural Center building, $52.4 million for both the Disability Research and the Disability Resources and Educational Services building and $15 million for the Natural History Building renovations.

However, state appropriations do not wholly finance the ongoing Natural History Building renovations. The Board awarded nearly $40 million in contracts to six firms hired for the project.