SPRINGFIELD - Students starting at the state's public universities in fall 2004 and after would be assured that their tuition would remain the same for four years, under a bill the Illinois House approved Wednesday and sent to the Senate.
The truth-in-tuition measure would not apply to room and board or any other fees or surcharges and does not prevent universities from raising tuition for each new freshmen class.
State Rep. Kevin Joyce, D-Chicago, who sponsored the bill, said it would help parents budget for college costs and would provide an incentive to graduate within four years.
The measure passed 104 to 6 with five members voting present.
State Rep. Terry Parke, R-Hoffman Estates, voted no.
?I appreciate the sponsor's intent on this legislation, but it sure doesn't make sense,? he said. ?This is just not good government.?
State Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, voted yes, but said he had some reservations about it.
Limiting tuition income without promising sufficient state funds could hurt the quality of the state's higher education system, he said.
Western Illinois University has had a similar tuition guarantee in place for the last several years, and it has been successful, but the university recently said it may have to suspend the program if the governor insists the universities meet his request to put 8 percent of their state operating funds in reserve for the year ending June 30.
The University of Illinois did not take a formal position on the bill.
?It's got a lot going for it,? said UI spokesman Tom Hardy. ?I think the concept is popular with students and their parents.?
The bill would also give universities some certainty as to their tuition income, but takes away some of their flexibility in dealing with unexpected crises of a financial or other nature, he said.
It could also mean students in the first year of the program would have to shoulder a larger tuition hike.
?If they were to do this and you want to average a 4 percent tuition increase over a period of a student being in school, the first year that you would do this you would have to raise tuition by 10 percent, and then for each successive class it would go up 4 percent,? Hardy said.
Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago, said he wants to look at the bill more closely before taking a position on it, said his spokeswoman, Cindy Davidsmeyer.
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