In-state tuition freezes for fall

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

The University will freeze tuition for in-state freshmen for the fifth straight year next fall. The last time the University experienced a tuition freeze of this length was from 1962 to 1968.

However, non residents will have increased tuition along with student fees and housing costs, which will keep up with inflation.

Tom Hardy, executive director of the University of Illinois System, said the tuition freeze helps prevent Illinois residents from attending colleges in other states, which affects the Illinois economy because graduates typically find employment in the state where they study.

“As a major state higher institution in Illinois, our primary constituents for enrollment are high school graduates in Illinois,” Hardy said. “We want to be affordable to all qualified students in Illinois. We want to grow our enrollment and make it possible and preferable for high school graduates to attend our universities instead of taking their intellect and skills to another state.”

Barbara Wilson, executive vice president and vice president for Academic Affairs of the University of Illinois System, said in an email that the tuition freeze will allow the three universities to stay in line with competing schools.

For the Champaign-Urbana campus, Wilson said the peer comparisons are Big Ten schools and top-ranked universities outside Illinois. This includes the University of Michigan, Purdue University, UC Berkeley, Indiana University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Our three universities are always benchmarking our tuition levels by comparing to our peers,” Wilson said. “The five-year tuition freeze for in-state undergraduates has helped us stabilize our costs, which are now more in line with our peers.”

Hardy said while no one can be sure how long the freeze will last, officials in the University system have been working productively to come to a yearly consensus on what’s best for students.

“The individual universities and the provost in particular have been doing a great job of becoming more efficient and more productive, which helps facilitate this tuition freeze,” Hardy said. “It’s a decision that’s made on a year-by-year basis.”

Illinois’ guaranteed tuition law, enacted in 2004, ensures incoming in-state student students pay the same rate for four years.

Wilson said the tuition freeze also supports an enrollment growth plan aiming to increase enrollment across the system to 93,000 by 2021.

Though the Champaign-Urbana campus is not actively working toward this plan, Wilson hopes that the freeze will ensure the University is affordable for the best and the brightest.

“We are trying to keep talented students in the state of Illinois,” Wilson said.

In addition to freezing tuition, the University of Illinois System focused on protecting students with low income. Total institutional financial aid, such as waivers, grants, scholarships and fellowships, tripled to $231 million a year over the last decade.

“At the same time that we are holding in-state tuition constant, we are also raising more money for scholarships and financial aid,” Wilson said. “So the goal is to stabilize tuition and, at the same time, provide competitive financial packages for bright students.”

Hardy said these new measures and financial aid for qualified students helps make the University of Illinois System more appealing and financially rewarding as a public institution.

“I think compared to our peer institutions, we’re performing exceptionally well,” Hardy said. “In a few years we’ve gone from rising near the top for tuition rates among the Big Ten to stabilizing our rates while others continue to rise.”

Preeti Narayanan, junior in LAS, said she is glad tuition is not increasing but would prefer if it was frozen at a lower level.

Masumi Prasad, junior in LAS, by contrast, said she is concerned the freeze may affect the number of resources it might limit.

“I don’t want tuition to rise, but if it’s taking back from the resources that the University offers then maybe increase it by a little and just check what the University needs because I know we don’t get enough state funding,” Prasad said.

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