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U of I approves tuition increase

Thursday, Mar 27, 2008

* On Monday I wrote a post on how U of I was considering raising its tuition at two campuses by 8%.

Well I was wrong. Yesterday they ended up approving a 9.5 % increase for the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

For the first time, new undergrads this fall will have to shell out more than $20,000 to attend the state’s flagship university. With the minimum cost to attend the school jumping past $20,000, families are going to react with sticker shock, some experts said:

“What you are going to see is more and more people are going to start getting more and more panicked about these things,” said John Immerwahr, a senior research fellow at Public Agenda who has studied public opinion about higher education.

* Joseph White, University of Illinois president, said “Quality education costs. There is no way around that.The $20,000 total cost of attendance at a top university like the University of Illinois is a very good value when you think the equivalent number at top privates is more than twice that.”

However, this decision comes at a time when elite private universities are guaranteeing that students from lower- and middle-income families will graduate with little or no debt. That sounds like a better bargain to me.

Many other Illinois residents are pondering the same question:

High school counselor Amy Thompson, whose daughter is a high school freshman, said she thinks that as prices continue to rise, students will turn to less-expensive community colleges for two years before transferring to a four-year institution.

“It just starts to get so ridiculously expensive that you start to think, ‘How are we going to do this?’ ” Thompson said. “I think more people will question whether it is worthwhile to do it right away.”

Thompson said her husband was shocked when he heard that U. of I.’s total cost will break the $20,000 mark. “He said, ‘We could just send them to Harvard. What’s the difference?’ ”

* At the University of Illinois at Chicago, fixed-rate tuition will also increase by 9.5 percent. Fees will be an additional $2,384 a year. At the Springfield campus, tuition will be $7,215 for 30 credit hours while fees will be $1,398 a year. The tuition increases at the three campuses will add about $46.5 million to the university’s budget, officials said

I spoke with a former university official, and they said that residents should keep in mind that the trustees have to keep enacting these increases because of the locked rate on tuition for students. They claim that inflation is around 3% each year, and the university has to keep pace.

Well I’ve heard it before on this blog, and I’ll echo it again. Maybe some should wake up the bureaucratic fiefdom that exists at U of I, and take aim at that. It’s time to start making some cuts, rather than to pass the burden on to Illinoisans.

U of I now ranks only second to Penn State as the leader in tuition rates within the Big Ten. Conversely, Ohio State costs $16,848, Indiana $15,311, and Wisconsin $13,835. How do they manage?

* Discuss

Other links:

* U. of I. freshmen to pay over $20,000
* U of I trustees approve tuition increase
* University of Illinois raises tuition again
* U of I will hike tuition at its three campuses

- Posted by Kevin Fanning        

  1. - Frank Booth - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:03 am:

    What’s the personal income tax rate in those states and what’s gone one with state funding in recent years.

    And not to defend the increases or total tuition, but when you pass a law telling the universities they have to charge each incoming class the same amount for four years (but don’t guarantee the same amount of state funding annually) you shouldn’t be surprised when the schools jack tuition through the roofm

  2. - Ghost - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:03 am:

    My main comment, lets see the salaries of all University employees.

    U of I has been paying middle management admimistrators on each campus more then the Secretaries and Directors of entire State agencies receive. They have less work and responsibility, but draw premium salaries.

    They argue they need the high priced administartor and professor salaries to stay ccompetitive, but they have yet to document a shortage of qualified applicants for those jobs at much lower salaries. Academic positions are considered plums at much lower salaries. Not to mention the misc unaccounted for expenses of millions of dollars.

    Its time for a little accounting and salary control, not a tuition hike. The problem, those monitoirng the purse are not answerable to the elctorate, and the halls of academia have a vested interest in keeping their exhorbitant pay and benefits.

  3. - Fire Ron Guenther - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:04 am:

    UI raises tuition; meantime UI gives their lousy athletic director, Ron Guenther, a raise of $75K to a $600K annual salary!!

    The UI Administration is a joke. Maybe President White can float that plan to increase out of state students for more cash and to make UI more “elite.”

  4. - Rich O. - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:08 am:

    when a college says they’re considering a tuition hike, it means they’re going to do it.

    it’s pretty much an annual occurrence

  5. - Kiyoshi Martinez - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:10 am:

    The Tribune story caught my eye on this:

    Students in some programs, however, will pay more. Journalism students will pay an extra $700 a year.

    I’d like to know where that extra $700/yr is going. I sure hope it’s for new media instruction.

  6. - University Graduate - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:22 am:

    Universities like U of I are big, sprawling entities, with lots of schools, departments, institutes and other units, each with a chairman, director or head, drawing a high salaries. Add it all up.

    The argument about higher costs for quality are only half right. To attract nationally prominent faculty in in-demand fields like bio-engineering, computers and so on, universities have to up the ante and offer higher salaries than competing institutions. But these top salaries pull up the salaries of everyone else, including faculty in low-demand fields. Add it up.

    I agree with those who feel universities need to stop the platitudes about quality, what a good bargain, costs are rising, and justify what tutition actually supports, and is it really needed. Yes the State has not paid its fair share, but unlike other parts of State government, universities can continue inefficiency by passing higher costs to students.

  7. - Balance - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:31 am:

    The public higher education institutions have too much autonomy. The state needs to exert more direct control and oversight.

    They have far exceeded their intended mission of providing education and are spending millions and millions of dollars on housing, recreational and entertainment facilites, and other add-ons and peripheral services. Expenditures should only be for faculty and classroom buildings.

    The curriculum also needs to be reigned in. Why should the taxpayers be providing a publicly subsidized training program for every industry under the sun? Broadly, well-educated individuals are easily trained by the private sector for specific tasks and are more adaptable to changing economics.

  8. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:36 am:

    20 grand is a disturbing milestone, but I’m not sure what you can do about it without a larger state commitment. They’re competing with universities around the country and it’s not a level playing field.

  9. - Capitol View - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:39 am:

    U of I has a monster of an endowment fund, but its earnings rate has to be at a six year low - if it is positive at all.

    The Illinois State Government appropriations process leaders know that public universities have two alternatives to their state appropriations - endowment fund earnings and alumni annual gifts. Some, like U of I / Urbana, have significant reasearch grants and contracts as well.

    States should take pride ni their state universities, and support them adequetely. But I wouldn’t be offended if anyone asked the Suditor General to take a look at the U of I / Urbana, to see how their public funds are managed and their instructional and administrative budgets are spent.

    Ignore the sports arena - this is a big ticket item that either breaks even or is cash flow positive to the U of I at Urbana and every other major university. College sports are entertainment, and should be on a parellel financial track. I don’t care what the team coaches and sports program administrators earn — any more than I care what Jay Leno or Ossie Guillen earn.

  10. - Blogger2 - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:44 am:

    The costs of campus operations obviously increase. The costs of attracting and retaining an academic staff continues to increase. The funding from state and federal sources has declined in many areas and failed to keep up with inflation in others. While researchers compete for grants, that doesn’t contribute to classroom instruction. The only other source of income is tuition.

    Sure the University of Wisconsin is one-third less, but I would rather have a degree from the University of Illinois for my money.

  11. - zatoichi - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:46 am:

    In the long run does it really make much difference for most people where the BA/BS degree came from? Are there any studies showing that the average person with a UofI degree earns more money or has better skills in 20 years than the average person from the other state schools, private colleges, or any other school. There are multiple roads to get that initial degree. Are some schools better? Sure, but spread the concept over the total number of college graduates in any year from all colleges in Illinois. Are all the graduates from one school that much better on the job than another?

    The reality is most people are not going to be huge corporate CEOs, skilled neurosurgeons, or Wall street attorneys. Most will be teachers, counselors, CPAs, newswriters, managers, medical personnel, scientists, pilots or one of tens of thousands of others positions where a basic degree is required. I have met/worked with some ungodly brilliant, talented successful people and some real dunces from the premier universities, state schools, private, and communuity college grads. The BA/BS seemed to be the ticket that allows you to play, but it did not really matter where it came from as long as it was through an accredited program. Masters are about the same, just another jump up the ladder for special situations. Phd, MD, JD, DDS and similar levels have very have limited program choices and are a very small percentage of people with degrees. Yes, I want my physician to have great training, but go back a read where those inital degrees came from. The doc I see attended a community college because that was what he could afford then. He is very good and eventually finished with a big school medical degree.

    If UofI tuition is $20,000, but UIS is $7,215 and in 20 years my earnings are about the same, that kinda starts becoming a factor in choices for education.

    Sounds like tuition costs will force a level of competition in higher ed to get students just to pay the bills.

  12. - anon sequitor - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 12:23 pm:

    My daughter goes to Ohio State and we pay out-of-state tuition of about $20,562 a year, plus another $1,000 in various fees.

    In-state students get a discount that lowers their tuition to the amount in the story above.

    Does Illinois charge out-of-staters more? If not, they should. And while they are at it, let in a few more OOS students to help subsidize in-state students.

  13. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 1:17 pm:

    U of I provides a degree and a superiority complex.

    zatoichi is on the right track. Prospective students need to look at the value they get for their education dollar. For Fresh-Soph level student, the best value is usually the local community college. Smaller class size, better access to faculty, better technology for students, and a focus on instruction. CC students typically outperform “native” university students during thier junior & senior years.

    However, since state funding is tied to credit-hours and headcount, the 600-900 student giant gen ed lecture is a money maker the universities are lothe to give up.

    Restructuring the system so Fresh & Soph students went to CCs and the universities focused on upperclassmen and grad students would probably lower overall costs. But hey, that’s not going to happen.

    Should U of I raise tuition? Sure. Economics will push more freshmen and sophomores to CCs where they might well have better success anyway. In addition, higher costs to parents will result in more pressure on Springfield to better fund Higher Ed.

  14. - What planet is he from again? - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 3:13 pm:

    It’s cold and rainy here today, so I feel the need to sound off.

    First, this hardly seems like news any more. Seems like every year, UofI increases their tuition 8-10% regardless of the inflation rate, the economy, the number of students, the quality of the faculty, or the price of tea in China. It seems some accountability is in order.

    Blogger3 said, “The costs of attracting and retaining an academic staff continues to increase.” I have to wonder why that is. While I admit to being unburdened by any solid facts, seems to me there are thousands of PhDs and Post-docs graduating every year that have to scramble to find a 6-month grant so they can work for a pittance and eat raman noodles somewhere until they luck into a decent teaching position somewhere at Lower Slobobia State University in Blooperstown. I’m sure attracting Nobel laureates is probably getting more expensive, but how much do they *really* improve the University? Could hiring 2 or 3 (or 4 or …) lower priced people improve the education and research as well or better than one high-priced reputation?

  15. - Bookworm - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 4:29 pm:

    U of I and other Illinois universities have also pretty much admitted that they have to recoup, from other students, the costs of the Illinois Veteran’s Grants that are supposed to pay all tuition and fees for their military veteran students — but don’t because the state’s not paying them on time (where have we heard that before?). If the state doesn’t start paying these grants in a timely fashion, the problem can only be expected to get worse in the future as more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans take advantage of the grant.

  16. - Kevin Fanning - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 4:35 pm:

    That’s quite a stretch.

  17. - A Citizen - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 4:59 pm:

    There seems to be No limit to the greed of the higher ed administrators and unions. They obfuscate the numbers so no one can see the real picture and then say “obviously” we need more money for the “children”. Smoke, mirrors and drivel. Cut their budgets until you actually SEE some decline in results, then adjust. These folks are primadonnas - there is no such thing as enough money in their view. Self serving, selfish, and dishonest!

  18. - Frank Booth - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 5:15 pm:

    the state doesn’t cover the GA scholarships either. That’s for the universities … I mean other students, to eat.

    By the time you start adding it up, that’s a lot of tuition money, not a 9 percent increase, but just one symptom of the greater problem.

    And again for the person who said it seems like the U of I hits each incoming class with a big increase. YES. It’s the only chance they have during that student’s 4 years to raise tuition so of course they’re going to jack up the rates to cover inflation and inflated inflation for the next four years.

  19. - A Citizen - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 5:26 pm:

    * Joseph White, University of Illinois president, said “Quality education costs. This guy and his board were not elected by the taxpayers, yet they raise the taxes on students and families willy nilly and call it “tuition”. Enough! Take their power to set tuition away and run the process through the state’s budget process. Force them to justify their requests not just ram them through like Hugo Chavez wannabes. They are way out of control and it’s time to put a stop to them.

  20. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 6:51 pm:

    A Citizen: In a free market economy, we should expect the workers to try to earn as much as they can. Why is this wrong all of a sudden? When a baseball player or corporate exec asks for top dollar they are applauded, when a union member or government employee does the same “…there is no such thing as enough money in their view. Self serving, selfish, and dishonest!”

  21. - A Citizen - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 8:22 pm:

    Government is not operated as a “free Market”.

  22. - Anon - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 9:09 pm:

    Citizen’s right. And when you listen to people like Toddler’s cousin, kids from UofI don’t even deserve decent salaries and increases because they didn’t graduate from Northwestern. I’d imagine that her rule applies to a person at any stage of their career regardless of merit and contribution. Sorry, wrong school; no job or no increase.

    “Headhunters” are guilty of perpetuating the same philosophy today. Four candidates; the best one is the one from the “best” school. I’m done. Here’s my bill.

    This has all become a silly game based on perception, and the more a school charges, the better it supposedly is. Amazing how such a huge investment is suddenly turning out a workforce with little self-esteem and confidence because all they’re aware of when they first get out is that they didn’t go to what was rated the number 1 school that year in the US (or from around the globe).

    In the meantime, companies are complaining that they can’t find qualified Americans to work for them here, so they’re tapping into the swarms of “overeducated” youngsters overseas, most of whom can’t speak English or have accents so thick that Americans can’t understand them on conference calls. Furthermore, the work ethic is not the same in the countries where everyone speaks with a beautiful lilt. As a matter of fact, I had someone tell me that an associate from overseas who constantly touted himself as being lazy and only interested in work/life balance send him an article from Harvard Biz, stating that Americans work too hard.

    I guess you need to be very highly educated to figure out the strategy that our US schools are executing if it’s something other than greed and taking advantage of opportunities to tout their school with complete disregard for what this Nation needs to stay competitive.

  23. - Fox Mulder - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 9:38 pm:

    Kevin, I vented quite a bit on your last post. Please excuse any redundancy.

    -UI could “cover” its lawful obligations to our honorable veterans by simply taking the Alumni Association and Division of Athletics off the instiutional dime. (DIA may be “cash flow positive” in some years, but the University corpus never sees a nickel.)

    -Kill the GA scholarships once and for all.

    -As noted above, institute a ban on new non-academic buildings until academic facilities are back in reasonably good shape.

    -60% General Assembly authorization for new UI programs for the next ten years. (example: why did UIS need to admit freshmen)

    -Cap administrative headcount as a % of enrollment. The UIUC vacancies, even just those published in the Champaign News-Gazette, sometimes read like they were written for the Onion. (”Visiting Assistant to the Associate Provost for Administration”)

    -Tie the flat tuition program to state funding increases or repeal it.

    -The Nuclear Option: Line-Item Appropriations for University budgets. Short of cutting legislative per diem, this would be the must lobbied piece of action involving an administrative issue in a long time.

    -Elect the U of I Board of Trustees.

    -Send Joe White and Richard “Pee Wee” Herman packing. Their accomplishments have been astoundingly few and they have proven repeatedly to be politically tone-deaf.

    -Pay the person who manages the UI Foundation investments at least as much as the person who manages the UI power plant. (I have checked this out, and it’s not even close; there are likely op engineers at the plant who make more with OT than the investments person.)
    BTW Cap View, the UI’s investment performance is basically mediocre. (It’s also darn hard to find in any UI public document.) It’s not quite as bad as the State Board of Investment, but close.

  24. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Mar 28, 08 @ 8:55 am:

    Citizen: The market in which workers sell their services is a free market and gov. entities must compete in that market for workers. The workers have the right to ask for as much pay as they want. The market will decide if they are worth it and, and the employers have to compete in that market. Is Ford “Self serving, selfish, and dishonest” when they raise the price of police cars? Or pick any supplier of products to the gov’t…

    Anon said: “In the meantime, companies are complaining that they can’t find qualified Americans to work for them here…” Actually, they can’t find qualified Americans to work at the wages they are willing to pay. If they paid more or recruited graduating HS Seniors or laid off workers and helped pay for their education in exchange for a promise to work, etc. they could find plenty of domestic workers.

  25. - Siuprof - Friday, Mar 28, 08 @ 9:26 am:

    Kevin: For state schools, either the state pays or the student does. Until Illinois steps up to the plate, it will cost each class of students more and more. Eventually, all middle and lower class kids will not be able to go and be stuck in their birth classes forever.

  26. - VanillaMan - Friday, Mar 28, 08 @ 9:38 am:

    Who owes who here?

    We pay for public universities, yet they feel entitled to annual tuition raises and increasing budget demands? They want more?

    For what?

    You want to know why our public universities fail to modernize their liberal arts? Why they are still stuffed with Marxist throwbacks? Because the professors spewing this garbage are actually living the Lie they spread like manure. They have no tethers to a free-market. If they want more money, they demand more. They do not have to become more efficient. They do not have to show better work for their raises. State universities are taxpayer based socialist utopias which need a complete reformation, not more cash!

    We do not have sufficient safeguards against their power, and we should have. WE pay for them.

    I will probably not send my children to public universities because I want my children to get a good education in a good college.

  27. - PalosParkBob - Sunday, Mar 30, 08 @ 7:54 pm:

    Fox, you hit it on the head.

    White ought to be challenged in his claim that “quality costs” because, quite simply, the quality of instruction for a UI student is far below that of a decent CC.

    As a graduate of UI, I took classes at my local community college during the summer after my freshman year, and was amazed by how far superior the JC instruction was.

    Science Lab facilities at the JC were light years above what I was exposed to at Noyes lab.

    Instead of my main instructor being a 23 year old graduate student who had no interest in teaching, no advanced degree, and no professional experience and often inadequate English skills as was the case at UI, I had seasoned professionals teaching me at the JC who often had PhDs, decades of professional experience, and a strong desire to teach.

    What does a graduate student instructor cost as compared to even a HS teacher in Illinois? I’d wager that it’s less than half the cost of salary and benefits per course.

    If actual instructional services at the University for undergrad students, with reasonable support resources, was over $10,000 per student, I’d be very surprised.

    I’ve worked with many failities directors from other B10 universities, and the consensus is that UI has the most patronage driven and inefficient system in the group.

    It’s time for a full accounting of undergraduate costs at the University and a benchmarking comparison with JCs and other state Universities.

    It’ll never come from the lackey Board of Trustees appointed by Blago, and the State Legislature feeds at the UI trough too often to even think about reforming the quagmire in Urbana.

    Just take a look at the incredibly expensive Alumni Association office (I also am a lifetime member of the AA)on Wacker Drive in Chicago, and try telling me how they can afford that, and another huge ostentatious building for the Alumni Association in Urbana,while there isn’t enough money to keep tuition affordable for students.

    Since I left the University, I’ve seen its academic ratings and reputation sinking like a stone. Fortunately, the Engineering school from which I graduated still has a pretty good rep, as well as Accounting, but overall the U went from consistently in the top 25 to top 50-75 US Universities.

    We’ve been leapfrogged by once backwater places like North Carolina.

    The problem is that tuition increases hasn’t deterred demand, so regardless of real cost of education the tuition will continue to rise at unjustifiable rates until they price the “average citizens” whom the land grant college was formed to support are priced out of the market.

    What a sad commentary on the mission and state of what once was a great University.

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