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UIUC offers free tuition to students from median household income families

Tuesday, Jul 9, 2019

* WBEZ

Starting with the 2019-2020 academic year, incoming students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign whose families earn less than $61,000 per year will not have to pay tuition.

The new program — called Illinois Commitment — applies to in-state students below the age of 24 starting as freshmen or transfer students. To qualify, students must have attended a high school in the state, and their family’s total assets must be $50,000 or less.

* Part of the interview with Robert Jones, chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Jenn White: And what is the cost of tuition right now at U of I?

Jones: Well, it depends on the degree program. But, on average, tuition runs about $15,000 to $16,000 a year depending upon the program.

White: How did you come to that $61,000 threshold for family income?

Jones: Well, it’s based on the median income for families across the state of Illinois.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

36 Comments
  1. - Old Illini - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:03 pm:

    It’s a start. Fees at UIUC are large, and that leaves room, board, travel and books. These students are still going to need help in some form.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:06 pm:

    ===The new program — called Illinois Commitment — applies to in-state students below the age of 24 starting as freshmen or transfer students. To qualify, students must have attended a high school in the state, and their family’s total assets must be $50,000 or less.===

    This is great.

    Now, tell me the exact number of qualified students.

    Thanks.


  3. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:07 pm:

    Here’s the FAQs from the website:

    https://osfa.illinois.edu/types-of-aid/other-aid/illinois-commitment/illinois-commitment-frequently-asked-questions/


  4. - Mama - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:09 pm:

    Every little bit helps.


  5. - pool boy - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:09 pm:

    So many questions. Who will pay for this? Will students be held accountable for payment if they don’t graduate? Will parents put their money in a trust in order to qualify? What constitutes a family? Etc., etc., etc.


  6. - Mama - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:10 pm:

    Hey Rich,

    What about UIS? Will they have free tuition too?


  7. - Former State Worker - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:13 pm:

    That’s wonderful. Proud of my University.


  8. - Old Illini - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:17 pm:

    The most economical way to go, I know from personal experience, is to complete Gen-Eds at a junior college for two years, and then transfer to UIUC. Parkland College, for example, has a Pathways Program that does just that.


  9. - 62656 - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:24 pm:

    This is good. I wonder how much their endowment makes per year & if it is covering this.


  10. - Nick - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:29 pm:

    My understanding is that the program will basically make up the difference left after FAFSA/MAP/Pell etc. This also won’t cover room and board, as an example.

    It’s a good step and a better headline, but probably not as much of a financial commitment as one might think.


  11. - JT - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:31 pm:

    Would these students qualify for MAP or Pell? If so, then the “free” part isn’t the full weight, just the difference between what financial aid covers and the “sticker price” which hardly anyone pays anyway. However, international students do pay sticker price, a higher sticker price, and they will subsidize this program.


  12. - Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:35 pm:

    Love it. Much better than free tuition for all, which ends up being a benefit to the upper middle class.


  13. - Candy Dogood - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:44 pm:

    ===Only new Illinois students can be considered for the Illinois Commitment program===

    That’s a heck of a go fly a kite.

    The FAQ didn’t address this, bot the $61,000 is a cliff? So — parents make $61,001 and you’re out of luck unless they’re able to make a traditional IRA contribution?


  14. - Blue Dog Dem - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:54 pm:

    OW @3:06. What’s your over/under.


  15. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 3:59 pm:

    “Will students be held accountable for payment if they don’t graduate?”

    So you’re trying to scare kids out of trying to attend college because they might run into a roadblock? Not great policy there..


  16. - NoGifts - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 4:00 pm:

    They’re not going to raise tuition on other students to cover it?


  17. - NoGifts - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 4:01 pm:

    And what are the family’s total assets? Home, retirement savings?


  18. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 4:02 pm:

    “Will students be held accountable for payment if they don’t graduate?”

    You’re aware that every year of college is valuable, not just the piece of paper at the end, right?

    And if a student has to drop out because of a family emergency, or ill health, or child care difficulties, or some other absolutely legitimate reason, the State of Illinois should come after them? Not a good look.


  19. - Just Me - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 4:07 pm:

    So, income of $61,000 is free, but $61,001 is full cost? That’s insane. A sliding scale makes much more sense.

    This incentives families to keep their income low and refuse work, as well as creates opportunity for fraud.


  20. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 4:13 pm:

    NoGifts — If UIUC’s administrators have the sense G-d gave a goat, they’ll use the Illinois Commitment to leverage more money out of the GA.

    Keep in mind that providing education is pretty much a matter of fixed costs. Adding one more kid — or even 10 more kids — to one of those huge lecture classes doesn’t cost the university a dime more. (We are going to assume that those 10 kids are spread out across a bunch of TA sections, so there won’t be additional hiring of grad student assistants.)

    Let’s assume that this outreach adds an extra 800 freshman to the campus (which is probably generous.) The total enrollment is about 33,000, so the actual increased costs will be minor.

    this is a smart move by the U of I, and will make an excellent education affordable for hundreds of kids who deserve it. Lincoln would be happy.


  21. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 4:17 pm:

    UT is doing this bigger (but they have oil money)

    https://www.statesman.com/news/20190709/attend-ut-for-free-after-tuesday-vote-21-of-undergrads-could


  22. - JoanP - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 4:20 pm:

    =And what are the family’s total assets? Home, retirement savings?=

    Use the link. “Family assets include savings/checking, investments, real estate and business net worth. Home value, qualified retirement accounts and family farms not required to be reported on the FAFSA are not counted in family assets. “


  23. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 4:20 pm:

    ===UT is doing this bigger (but they have oil money)===

    They also have the 10% automatic admission. A student in the top 10% of their high school graduating class is admitted at UT.

    Texas knows.

    Keep your students in-state.


  24. - Twirling Towards Freedom - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 4:35 pm:

    This is good, but I think a sliding scale, where tuition goes up based on income/assets, would be a better way to go.

    I also wonder how they’re going to verify total assets.


  25. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 4:38 pm:

    Just Me — No, that’s not how it works. Students whose family income is higher than the median will still be eligible for various types of financial aid.


  26. - Bev - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 5:02 pm:

    It’s hard to qualify for aid
    Fafsa only looks at bottom line

    They don’t take into consideration Mortgages. Car Payments
    House. And car insurance Utilities. Food Etc etc


  27. - Precinct Captain - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 5:13 pm:

    Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 4:20 pm:

    UI has lobbied against doing that here


  28. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 5:25 pm:

    OW and PC — What would that 10 percent thing do to the rest of the state universities?


  29. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 5:29 pm:

    ===What would that 10 percent thing do to the rest of the state universities?===

    1) Keeps slots for UIUC in-state, allowing more open slots at ISU, EIU, etc.

    2) Makes a larger pool of students consider the other universities as those students defaulting to NIU, ISU… are now at UIUC

    For openers…


  30. - Indiana's idea - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 5:43 pm:

    NPR did a story this week on a program at Perdue where your tuition is free but you have to make payments once you have a job, at a percentage of the job’s salary. So, the better the job you get, the more Perdue makes back. You don’t pay forever; there’s a limit, and, if you fall on hard times, or even take a year off to travel, you don’t pay until you get going again, no penalties or interest. It has a a number of interesting rules, features and controls, and it looks like something attractive that will expand to other colleges. The Australians have this all figured out it seems, and we should look at copying their success.


  31. - Political Science - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 7:20 pm:

    JT said: “Would these students qualify for MAP or Pell? If so, then the “free” part isn’t the full weight, just the difference between what financial aid covers and the “sticker price” which hardly anyone pays anyway. However, international students do pay sticker price, a higher sticker price, and they will subsidize this program.”

    Meanwhile at the University of Illinois at Chicago….

    “Hundreds of international students were robbed of their right to vote in a recent student election at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), an investigation revealed.”

    Source: https://nextshark.com/uic-foreigners-disenfranchised-election/


  32. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jul 9, 19 @ 10:44 pm:

    these are difficult decisions. what if a family is at $70K? or has lots of kids and a family at $60k has only one child? it’s all painful, including for those with higher incomes.


  33. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 10, 19 @ 8:10 am:

    As cited in the Chicago Tribune article on brain drain to the University of Alabama, UA “makes up” the tuition losses by housing costs and student spending.

    It’s like $3 tickets for a sporting event that may cost $50 a ticket;

    The team makes money on hot dogs, beer, pop, pizza…

    All those things wouldn’t have been bought unless those folks were at the game.

    Illinois, as a state, needs to revisit merit scholarships, no matter family income levels. It doesn’t need to be the centerpiece, but merit scholarships keep students whose families make over $61K and find grants impossible to secure because of family income as well.


  34. - I Miss Bentohs - Wednesday, Jul 10, 19 @ 8:56 am:

    OW, with regards to UT, I think the key thing is not so much the top 10% rule but this rule:

    State law mandates that 90% of UT’s student body come from Texas.


  35. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 10, 19 @ 8:58 am:

    ===State law mandates that 90% of UT’s student body come from Texas.===

    If you have a link, I’d be interested in that.

    There are a whole bunch of UT rules with admissions, transfers, funding, etc.

    Thanks.


  36. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 10, 19 @ 9:02 am:

    - I Miss Bentohs -

    Here’s a good read…

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/texadmissions.com/blog/are-out-of-state-oos-applicants-at-a-disadvantage%3fformat=amp


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