UI trustees consider proposed hikes in tuition, fees

UI trustees consider proposed hikes in tuition, fees

URBANA – Tuition rates for in-state freshmen could jump nearly 10 percent at the University of Illinois next year, and fees are slated to rise 6 percent.

UI trustees will meet Wednesday to consider a package of tuition and fee proposals, including a 9.5 percent increase in the general tuition rate for new undergraduates at the Urbana campus. That cost, now at $4,220 a semester, would rise by $401 to $4,621, or $9,242 a year.

A growing number of individual colleges or departments also tack on tuition surcharges for students in engineering, chemistry/life sciences, fine and applied arts, business and some agricultural programs. Those "differentials" are as high as $2,076 a semester.

The latest is the Department of Journalism, which plans to charge its students an additional $350 a semester next year, increasing its tuition by 17.8 percent overall next fall.

College of Communications Dean Ron Yates likened it to a "technology course fee." Journalism has become technology-dependent, he said, and computers and software must be replaced every two or three years because technology is changing so rapidly.

The surcharge will generate an estimated $63,000 next year.

The college's enrollment also has doubled as journalism, advertising and media studies move from two-year to four-year programs. The college this spring accepted its first freshman class for next fall, up to 200 new students. Trustees will vote Wednesday on changing its name to College of Media.

The college initially proposed a surcharge for all three programs, but administrators wanted to implement it by department, Yates said. He expects to request an advertising surcharge next year.

"It's the way the world is moving," he said. "If we're going to educate our students so they can go out into that world and use state-of-the-art technology, we have to provide it."

The campus is also proposing a $500 course fee for a number of pre-med courses in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Tuition rates will be guaranteed for four years under the state's tuition guarantee law, designed to give families predictability in college costs. The recommended rates come out to average annual increases of 3.66 percent over an undergraduate's four years, comparable to the consumer price index, said UI spokesman Thomas Hardy.

Hardy said the tuition increases are needed to meet rising costs, recruit and retain "excellent" faculty and ensure academic quality. Tuition also rose by 9.5 percent this year.

The UI as a whole gets about $1.1 billion in state support out of a $3.9 billion overall budget. But the state's share has been shrinking because of other demands on state tax revenue, Hardy said. That means the UI must rely more heavily on other sources of income – tuition, research grants and private donations.

Student costs at the UI will rise by about $1,500 next year with tuition, fees and housing rates combined.

Trustees on Wednesday will vote on a proposed 6.1 percent increase in student fees at the Urbana campus, which support the UI Library, McKinley Health Center, the Assembly Hall and other auxiliary facilities, campus buses and other services. The new rates would be $1,297 per semester, or $2,594 a year, a $150 increase.

The money will be used to cover increased minimum wage costs, rising prices for pharmaceuticals and lab supplies, program improvements, and the conversion of two units from state support to student fees: the Dean of Students office and the Illinois Leadership Center. Some fees are refundable.

In January, trustees approved a 7 percent increase in room and board rates for the 2008-09 school year. A double room with a standard 14-meal plan will cost $8,198, a $532 increase.

Also on the agenda:

– Group discounts for Global Campus. Trustees will decide whether to authorize tiered discounts of up to 15 percent for businesses and organizations that enroll groups of people in online education programs through the UI's Global Campus.

Global Campus is designed to be self-supporting, but online education is "highly competitive," administrators said. Large, for-profit universities are able to design customized education programs for corporate clients and offer competitive prices.

Group discounts for selected Global Campus programs would give the UI flexibility in pricing. The cost could be offset by not having to use more expensive Web-based marketing normally used to recruit online students, administrators said.

Proposed UI student costs

2008-09 school year

Tuition: $9,242 (9.5 percent increase)*

Fees: $2,594 a year (6.1 percent increase)**

Health insurance: $394 (9 percent increase)***

Room and board: $8,198 (7 percent increase)+

Total: $20,428

* Guaranteed four-year rate for new in-state freshmen. Students in some programs pay higher rates.

** Includes some refundable fees.

*** Optional.

+ Double room with a standard 14-meal plan.

Source: University of Illinois

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