UI trustees approve 4.8 percent tuition increase
UPDATED 5 p.m.
CHICAGO - Tuition for incoming freshmen will rise by 4.8 percent next fall under new rates approved Thursday by University of Illinois trustees today, with only the student trustees voting no.
The tuition rates for 2012-13 had been released Thursday morning, just hours before the vote.
Basic freshman undergraduate tuition at the Urbana campus will rise by $532 a year, to $11,636. Students in engineering and other disciplines will pay more through “differentials,” up to $16,566 a year.
The rates will not increase for four years for freshmen entering after May 2012, under the state’s guaranteed tuition law.
Student Trustee Kenneth Thomas of Chicago, who holds the vote for all three student trustees, voted against the tuition increase, citing a growing gap between tuition and financial aid.
The board also approved new housing rates and student fee increases that, combined with tuition, will raise total costs for UI students at the Urbana campus by 3.3 percent.
Fees will total $2,882 a year, $10 more than this year, and a standard room and board plan will cost $9,688, up $236.
The Illinois Student Senate opposed the fee changes in a resolution adopted Wednesday night, as the new fee structure consolidates seven refundable fees with two other fees into a new, slightly lower mandatory fee of $64.
But Hannah Ehrenberg, student trustee for the Urbana campus, said she felt there had been adequate consultation with student groups about the change, which means students can no longer get a refund on those fees.
"As part of this change, it's giving some power back to students and creating oversight committees for all these fees. I think it's positive," she said.
Several trustees spoke about the need to improve financial aid, particularly for middle-income families who don't qualify for most grants.
UI President Michael Hogan noted that tuition increases have been declining, from 9.5 percent two years ago to under 5 percent this year.
The latest increase was based on the Higher Education Price Index, which rose 1.9 percent his year. To maintain that increase over the next four years under the guaranteed tuition law required an initial hike of 4.8 percent, administrators said.
The board adopted a policy last year promising to hold tuition increases to the cost of living, “assuming constant state support," Hogan said.
“We’d like to continue our current policy, which addresses the most important issue of accessibility, but ... much depends on the future of state funding,” Hogan said. “It continues to look problematic.”
Also Thursday, Christopher Kennedy was unanimously re-elected to his third full term as chairman of the UI Board of Trustees.
Kennedy, the son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was first elected chair after being appointed to the board in September 2009, when most of the board was replaced following the Category I admissions scandal.
He was re-elected in January 2010 and January 2011.
Trustee James Montgomery nominated Kennedy, saying he has “demonstrated very clearly that he is devoted to the interests of the university (and) has devoted extraordinary personal time and energy to the university’s functions.”
Trustees Edward McMillan and Pamela Strobel were also re-elected to the board’s executive committee.
The board's bylaws state that the board chair is expected to serve "two consecutive terms of one year each."
Kennedy said board members discussed rotating the chairmanship but wanted to keep him and the current committee chairs in place for another year.