Universities stand against tuition waiver bill, vote postponed

By Abigale Svoboda

The University recently signed a legislative fact sheet sponsored by The Illinois Federation of Teachers in opposition of House Bill 403, which aims to eliminate tuition waivers.

The proposed bill was postponed March 11 in an Illinois House Committee.

The State Government Administration Committee will review the bill during a hearing scheduled for Wednesday in Springfield.

The fact sheet provides five reasons to oppose the bill, including its ability to save universities and retain high quality faculty and staff, as their children can receive the waivers.

Rep. Jack Franks, D-63, proposed the bill in an effort to save the state an estimated $10 million per year, reversing a 1998 statute that grants tuition waivers. In his proposal, students beginning college in the fall of 2015 would not receive waivers. Students who are already in school would maintain eligibility until graduation. The waivers would be phased out by 2018. Franks said this would save the state about $10 million.

The fact sheet highlights that if the bill is passed, students who are currently eligible for the waiver may not be able to attend college. Additionally, the sheet states 100 percent tuition waivers are not uncommon in other states, which could force high quality faculty and staff to go to other institutions. The waivers currently cover 50 percent of tuition.

Currently, the dependents of 2,548 faculty members, 3,665 administrative and academic professional staff and 4,136 support staff at the Urbana campus alone, are eligible for tuition waivers.

Seven other Illinois public universities and seven professional organizations have also signed the fact sheet.

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@abigalesvoboda