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URBANA — In an ongoing effort to keep college costs down and attract more Illinois students, the University of Illinois is proposing a fifth-straight tuition freeze for in-state freshmen next fall, though fees and housing rates will inch up slightly.

If approved, the tuition freeze would apply to all three UI campuses and represent the longest run of flat tuition rates in more than a half-century, since a seven-year period from 1962 to 1968.

General undergraduate tuition at the Urbana campus would remain at $12,036 annually, though students in higher-cost programs such as business or engineering pay as much as $17,040. Mandatory fees would go up by $28, to $3,086, an increase of 0.92 percent.

Room-and-board costs would go up by 1.5 percent, after two years of no increases, officials said. A double room with a standard meal plan would cost $162 more, or $10,774 a year.

"This proposal helps to keep our doors open wide to Illinois students, providing a world-class education that will change their lives and expand a crucial pipeline of talent that already sends more than 22,000 new graduates into the work force every year," UI President Tim Killeen said Tuesday in a prepared statement.

Tuition for out-of-state students would go up by about 2 percent, with the base rate in Urbana increasing $572 from $28,606 to $29,178 a year.

The proposals will be voted on by UI trustees during a weather-shortened meeting Thursday in Chicago, which will start at noon rather than 9:30 a.m.

The new rates will first be reviewed by the board’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee, which pushed back its Wednesday meeting to 10:30 a.m. Thursday because of the subzero forecast.

Two other committee meetings originally scheduled for Wednesday, focusing on the UI Health system and personnel matters, were canceled. Those agenda items will be reviewed Thursday morning before they’re acted on during the board’s business meeting, said UI spokesman Tom Hardy.

The UI didn’t want to postpone the entire meeting because of the difficulty of scheduling an alternate date for trustees and administrators, Hardy said.

"A lot of people already had this on their schedule for quite some time," he said.

'Thoughtful budgeting'

Killeen said the tuition freeze reflects a commitment to keep the UI affordable and help stem an "outmigration" of Illinois students to colleges in other states that frequently offer lucrative scholarship packages.

The UI has increased its institutional financial aid — tuition waivers, grants, scholarships and fellowships — to $231 million a year across the three campuses, exceeding the $206 million in total aid from state and federal sources, Killeen said. The Urbana campus also launched a new program for next fall promising free tuition to Illinois students whose families earn less than the state's median income.

Overall, 60 percent of undergraduates at the Urbana campus and 70 percent at Chicago pay less than full sticker price, Hardy said.

The effort has helped boost enrollment 9.4 percent to a record 85,960 students since fall 2014, when in-state tuition last increased, part of an overall push to increase enrollment by 15 percent.

Because of the state’s guaranteed-tuition law — which ensures that students pay the same tuition for all four years of college — in-state students who enroll next fall would pay the same rate for their senior year in 2022-23 as students who enrolled in the fall of 2014, nearly a decade earlier, Killeen said.

During the first four years of the UI’s freeze, tuition and fees increased by an average of 11.8 percent among four-year public colleges and universities nationwide, according to the College Board, a nonprofit association representing U.S. colleges and universities. For this year, tuition and fees rose by an average of 2.5 percent, based on the latest survey.

UI Executive Vice President Barbara Wilson said "thoughtful budgeting" at all levels of the university allowed the UI to extend its tuition freeze.

Urbana: $28 fee increase

If the proposals are approved, base in-state tuition would remain $10,584 in Chicago and $9,405 in Springfield, plus differentials for higher-cost programs.

Tuition for several graduate and professional programs would increase in Urbana and Chicago, most by 2 percent or less, but would stay at current levels in Springfield.

Rates for the John Marshall Law School, a private college set to become part of the UI Chicago by next fall, would be $36,000 annually for Illinois residents and $45,000 for nonresidents. John Marshall now charges nearly $47,000 annually regardless of residency.

The student fees help pay for costs such as operating campus recreational facilities, student unions, career services, athletics, counseling centers and libraries, and also help with facility maintenance, renovations and utilities.

The $28 increase in Urbana includes an $8 increase in the service fee, which funds operations at the Illini Union, State Farm Center and other fee-supported auxiliary units; a $10 increase in the health service fee for McKinley Health Center; and a $10 increase in the Academic Facilities Maintenance Fund Assessment, which pays for classroom renovations.

The proposed rates for 2019-20 don’t include health insurance rates, which are set in the spring. Students can opt out of university insurance if they are covered under another plan.

In Chicago, fees would increase 3.6 percent, or $116, to $3,308 a year, largely to finance debt service for expansion and remodeling of campus student centers. Room and board costs would go up $190, or 1.7 percent, to $11,260 a year for a standard double room and meal plan.

In Springfield, mandatory fees and standard room and board costs would not change from the current $2,426 and $10,810 a year.



Julie Wurth is a reporter covering the University of Illinois at The News-Gazette. Her email is, and you can follow her on Twitter (@jawurth).