URBANA — Tuition is still a question mark, but it appears student fees and housing rates will rise only modestly at the University of Illinois next year.
Administrators on Monday reviewed proposals to increase student fees by $5 a semester, or 0.3 percent, to $1,441, or $2,882 for an academic year.
Room and board costs for a standard double room with 12 meals per week would rise by 2.5 percent on campus, or $118 a semester. The new price would be $4,844 a semester, or $9,688 a year.
A trustees' committee reviewed the proposals Monday, and the full board is scheduled to vote next week in Chicago.
Officials had planned to approve new tuition rates at the January board meeting as well, but nothing was discussed Monday. Trustee Ed McMillan said administrators are still pulling those figures together, but the board would like to make a decision on tuition this month.
"We really believe the sooner we can get information out to parents, the sooner they can plan," he said Monday.
W. Randall Kangas, associate vice president for planning and budgeting, said the fees, in particular, are relatively low because no major projects are planned at student-supported facilities and energy prices have been locked in under multiyear contracts.
"We just keep trying to push down the price as much as possible," he said.
The new fee rates reflect a $9 increase in the Academic Facilities Maintenance Assessment, which pays to improve academic buildings and a $5 increase in the service fee, which supports auxiliary facilities such as the Illini Union and Assembly Hall.
But other fees would drop, including a series of nine student-initiated fees for various causes, such as campus student organizations, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, study abroad programs and sustainability initiatives. The proposal outlined Monday would combine nine different fees totaling $73 — some refundable and some not — into a single, nonrefundable "Student Initiated Fee" of $64.
Vice President and Comptroller Walter Knorr called it "fee simplification and reform," adding that students had signed off on the various proposals.
Knorr and other officials also briefed trustees on the state's budget prospects and how that might affect the UI. Gov. Pat Quinn last week announced preliminary budget plans to keep public school and higher education funding flat in fiscal 2013, while cutting other areas of the budget by 6 percent to 9 percent.
"But we'd lose in inflation," President Michael Hogan said. "It's a hidden cost, basically."
Richard Dye of the UI's Institute of Government and Public Affairs also said the proposed cuts could be "politically very, very difficult."
He noted that Moody's recently dropped the state's bond rating, giving it the lowest rating among the states, for its lack of plans to deal with long-term debt and pension obligations. The UI and other public universities have been placed on a "watch list" as a result, Knorr said, which will mean another visit from the rating agencies. The UI's rating remains AA.
The state owes the university $242 million, compared with $447 million a year ago, Knorr said.
The Urbana campus on Monday received $13.3 million in grants for students through the Monetary Award Program, which Quinn approved in December. The UI should also be getting $16 million to fund the state scientific surveys, Knorr said.