College students fleeing Illinois for cheaper tuition. Legislature seeks to change that.

As Carolyn Bossung, of Swansea, went through her college selection process, the financial cost played a role in which schools she considered, and ultimately where she attended.

The University of Missouri junior received the school’s Heritage Scholarship, which is open to students whose parents attended Mizzou, have ACT or SAT scores in the top 25 percent, and are non-Missouri residents.

With the scholarship, she only has to pay in-state tuition, which for this school year is $11,008, instead of $26,596 for out-of-state students without any scholarship. In-state tuition at the University of Illinois, by comparison, is more than $15,800 this year.

“It ended up working out. I was still close to home, about two hours out, I was getting in-state (tuition), and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I felt Mizzou gave me a lot of options,” said Bossung, who is double majoring in biology and education.

Bossung said she didn’t even consider public universities Illinois, expecting them to be more expensive. In some cases she is right. While tuition at the two Southern Illinois University campuses is lower for residents, it is higher at University of Illinois and Eastern Illinois University, for example.

While tuition is just one of the costs, it could be a contributing factor to a migration of Illinois students since 2000.

Out of-state tuition at the University of Missouri is $26,596. Altogether, a student paying resident tuition, housing and dining, books, fees and other expenses at Mizzou would pay $27,964 a year, compared with $43,552 for students paying out-of-state tuition and other expenses, according to the university.

In a study, the Illinois Board of Higher Education found that hundreds of millions of dollars more would come to state universities if the state didn’t have a net loss of students. It also found that the University of Missouri, University of Iowa, Indiana State University and Iowa State University attracted the most Illinois residents in 2014.

“Eliminating the net loss would result in more than $215 million in additional tuition and fee revenue to Illinois universities,” the board wrote in a letter to universities presidents and chancellors.

If we don’t keep people working in Illinois, we’re not going to be getting revenue in terms of tax revenue anyway. And if we could get somebody to work and live in Illinois five years after college graduation, we’ve got a pretty good chance we’re going to keep them here during their working life. We’re talking years of them producing.

State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville

Now Illinois legislators are trying to figure out ways to keep students from leaving the state, and potentially stay in state after graduating.

The net loss of students has been ongoing for more than a decade in Illinois, and may have been worsened by the state budget impasse. Without a budget in place, Illinois was not paying for Monetary Award Program grants, or MAP grants, which help cover some costs for students attending state universities.

In 2014, the state had a net loss of 16,623 students, according to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, up from 10,222 students in 2000.

There are different proposals that have been made in the Illinois General Assembly to try to encourage students to stay in state:

▪  One proposal, House Bill 230, calls for guaranteeing admission into the state university system if students graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school class and meet the ACT benchmark for college readiness.

“We have highly qualified students, but because of the high school they attend, they get overlooked, even though they’re top students in that high school,” said State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville. “It goes along hand in hand with the population of our universities not being representative of our population as a whole in terms of diversity.”

▪  Another proposal, House Bill 145, is a student loan forgiveness program for students who attend state universities. The proposal calls for students to live and work in Illinois for four years after graduating from school and maintain a high GPA while in college. With the average student loan debt being $30,000, up to $6,000 a year in student loan debt would be forgiven for up to five years.

▪  Under still another proposal, House Bill 3746, the state would offer an income tax deduction on interest on student loan payments, similar to the deduction of home mortgage interest payments.

“If we don’t keep people working in Illinois, we’re not going to be getting revenue in terms of tax revenue anyway,” Stuart said. “And if we could get somebody to work and live in Illinois five years after college graduation, we’ve got a pretty good chance we’re going to keep them here during their working life. We’re talking years of them producing.”

There are 166,087 students attending Illinois public universities this year, down from 172,664 students just two years ago, according to the Illinois State Board of Education.

Acknowledging that student migration out of Illinois was a problem, the Southern Illinois University board of trustees last year approved one tuition for all undergraduate students, regardless of where they’re from. This year that tuition is $8,772 a year — one of the most-affordable in the region.

“What has made SIUE viable is our strong programs, faculty, our internships and co-ops that lead to jobs,” said Todd Burrell, director of undergraduate admissions. “Being affordable at the same time makes us an attractive option for a lot of students.”

Burrell said undergraduate applications this year were running about 100 ahead of last year from Missouri alone. And admissions are up for students coming from Chicago and across Illinois.

“Our brand is out there,” he said.

In addition to MAP grants, the university also offers the so-called SIUE grant for students with greater needs to provide even more scholarship dollars to help keep the university competitive, Burrell said.

The student loan forgiveness idea would be attractive to Carolyn Bossung, the Swansea student at Mizzou.

“If I didn’t have to worry about so many loans, that would have opened up my search a lot,” she said.

When Missouri State University freshman and Belleville native Austin Quandt was going through his college decision process, he also considered the University of Illinois, where his brother, Hayden, attended.

It was a huge part in making my decision, just because I didn’t want to get out of college with a decent degree, but still be in a lot of debt.

Austin Quandt, Belleville native and freshman at Missouri State University

Finances played a big role in his decision to attend Missouri State in Springfield.

“It was a huge part in making my decision, just because I didn’t want to get out of college with a decent degree, but still be in a lot of debt,” Quandt said.

Quandt said his family is still working to pay off the debt from Hayden’s education.

“That’s pretty much when financially I tried to make the smarter, better decision both for myself and for my family,” Austin Quandt said.

Austin Quandt is paying in-state tuition at Missouri State of $7,306 a year. An out-of-state student is usually charged more than $14,700 a year just for tuition. Additional scholarships reduced the cost even more, said Lisa Quandt, Austin and Hayden’s mother.

“They made it so appealing, they threw money at us,” Lisa Quandt said. “(Austin) had the opportunity for quite a few scholarships just for leadership, let alone the money they were going to give you academically. Whereas when we looked at U of I … they don’t give anything. There’s just nothing out there.”

Austin Quandt said a student loan forgiveness would be attractive to him and could have made his decision more difficult.

“My decision was based more on the financial aspect of it, and I didn’t want to be in that much debt,” he said. “So I think if the student loan (bill) were to be enacted … I don’t know if it would have changed my decision, but it definitely would have affected it more.”

Net student migration loss for Illinois

  • 2000: 10,222 students
  • 2002: 11,352 students
  • 2004: 11,073 students
  • 2006: 4,913 students
  • 2008: 3,045 students
  • 2010: 10,972 students
  • 2012: 16,563 students
  • 2014: 16,623 students

Source: Illinois Board of Higher Education

Annual in-state tuition costs

Source: State universities

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November 21, 2017 at 11:45AM

College students fleeing Illinois for cheaper tuition. Legislature seeks to change that.

Heartland to move, expand Lincoln Center

NORMAL — Heartland Community College’s Lincoln Center will be moving to a new, larger location next year with expanded programming, including the addition of programs for certified nursing assistants and precision agriculture.

Heartland anticipates approximately $430,000 in one-time expenses for remodeling, furniture, fixtures, information technology and other start-up costs.

Heartland currently leases facilities in downtown Lincoln for $42,000 a year. The lease for the new facility will be $62,000 but the cost per square foot will be about $9.01 rather than the current $10.60.

One of those is the addition of a certified nursing assistant program. College officials said CNAs are in high demand.

The expansion of St. Clara’s Manor in Lincoln and an aging population are expected to continue that demand, according to Kristi Powell, associated director of the Heartland Lincoln Center.

Equipment and various state approvals will be needed to start up the program, but the college hopes to have the first classes starting by spring 2019 and possibly by the second half of the fall 2018 semester.

College officials said the staff is looking into possible equipment donations to help kick-start the program.

The college also plans to add precision agriculture programs. These would be certificate or two-year associate’s degree programs aimed at immediate employment after completion, rather than transfer to a four-year school. Powell said they would cover specific technology used in agriculture, such as drones, GPS systems on farm equipment.

The new location also will enable the college to expand its offerings in adult education, continuing education and general academic core courses.

Rick Pearce, vice president for learning and student success, said there is a long waiting list for adult education classes in Lincoln.

College officials anticipate the equalized assessed valuation of the district will increase about 2 percent. That would result in the district’s tax rate dropping by 1.2 cents per $100 assessed valuation to just under 58 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

That would mean the owner of a $165,000 home would pay about $317, a decrease of about $7, assuming the assessed value of their property didn’t change.

Heartland to move, expand Lincoln Center

Bowman: ‘Difficult Conversations’ Coming For Illinois Higher Education

When Al Bowman was president of Illinois State University, he liked the freedom and flexibility that he had to run his campus. Now that tables have turned.

Bowman was recently appointed executive director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. He’ll now be advocating for funding and scholarship money on behalf of all Illinois public universities. And he’ll also be pushing for better coordination in decision-making among those same public universities—a move away from the freedom and flexibility he enjoyed as ISU’s president.

“For the state, that autonomy is probably not as helpful,” Bowman said on GLT’s Sound Ideas. “The state has certain needs, and I think it’s essential for the state to better coordinate the activity of its college campuses so that they work together and meet the workforce needs of the state.”

Bowman will face some big challenges in his new position. With few exceptions, most state public universities saw their enrollment decrease this fall. High school students continue to leave the state for college—a potential long-term brain drain for Illinois. And state funding continues to decline for public higher education—and that’s only when lawmakers bother to pass even some funding.

Bowman, who retired from ISU in 2013, said he took the job after being asked to consider it by Tom Cross, a former state lawmaker who is now chairman of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

“In my mind, there’s some advantage to having a spokesman for the Illinois Board of Higher Education who’s had extensive campus experience,” Bowman said. “I can talk about college life in a way that a typical state agency bureaucrat can’t. I felt like in a small way I could use my skills to represent the very important needs of public higher education in the state.”

Those needs may lead to some difficult decisions. During the last budget standoff, some lawmakers questioned whether the state had too many public universities and too few students. In other words, should one of the state’s public universities close?

“We have to have that conversation,” Bowman said, noting the decline in 18-year-olds across the Midwest as one factor for enrollment problems. If Illinois’ regional public universities can reverse their recent enrollment declines, “life can probably go on,” Bowman said.

“But if we continue in a downward cycle, then we’ve got to stand back and look at overcapacity and make some tough decisions about what to do about it,” he said.

Higher Education Strategic Centers of Excellence Plan

State Rep. Dan Brady of Bloomington and state Sen. Chapin Rose from Mahomet, both Republicans, recently introduced legislation that overhaul the state’s higher education system, called the Higher Education Strategic Centers of Excellence Plan. It would create a uniform admissions application for all public schools in Illinois, among other changes. But it also proposes changes that may concern university leaders, such as ranking the quality of academic departments against similar departments at other schools.

Bowman said the proposal has some good ideas but others that are concerning. He said it’s not likely to pass in its current form, and its intent is to “start a conversation.”

“When it comes to ranking academic programs, that’s not easy for a college dean to do, much less to do a ranking across institutions, as broad and diverse as they are across Illinois,” he said. “I do think it’s important for us to have difficult conversations about where we are in the state with our public universities.”

WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.

Bowman: ‘Difficult Conversations’ Coming For Illinois Higher Education

Kishwaukee College continues excellence in financial reporting

Kishwaukee College has been cited by Sikich, the college’s independent auditor, for a successful and clean financial audit for the fiscal year ending June 30.

A Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) is compiled and submitted annually by Kishwaukee College. The College’s CAFR will be submitted to the Government Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada for review.

Kishwaukee College has a history of award-winning CAFRs and has received the Certificate of Achievement in Financial Reporting award from the GFOA every year since 2012 when the college first submitted a CAFR. Kevin Fuss, vice president of administration, and Jill Hansen, controller, compiled the FY2017 CAFR.

“The CAFR goes beyond the minimum financial reporting requirements to improve transparency for the public as they evaluate the economic condition of the college,” Hansen said in a news release.

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November 21, 2017 at 05:31AM

Kishwaukee College continues excellence in financial reporting

SIU-Carbondale chancellor: We must spend more on teaching, less on administration

The chancellor at Southern Illinois University’s main campus is doubling down on his plan to change the school and hopefully reverse years of declining enrollment and lost money. 

But the faculty senate at SIU Carbondale doesn’t like Chancellor Carlo Montemagno’s plan to restructure the campus. They say his plan is too sudden, too broad, and will close too many programs or departments. 

Montemagno last week said that doesn’t matter. He said SIU cannot continue to hemorrhage students and their tuition dollars. That means campus bureaucracy must go. 

“We are spending too much time and money on administration, and not enough on teaching and research,” Montemagno said in a video message to campus last week. “[Adding] to this challenge is outdated ways in which our departments function, limiting innovation and collaboration.”

At SIU Carbondale, just 1,354 of the school’s 4,795 employees work in a classroom. The budget for the school was more than $488 million last year. As a result, Montemagno said, the school is stuck in a downward spiral. 

“We have lost 50 percent of our freshman class over the past three years alone,” Montemagno said. “The nearly nine percent drop in enrollment this year reflects a $9.4 million loss in tuition revenue. We have 6,000 fewer students than we had just 10 years ago.”

Montemagno said he knows that new programs, a new focus on students, and an effort to bring SIU Carbondale out of its entrenched ways can turn the school around. 

“We cannot continue to do what we’ve always done and expect a different outcome,” Montemagno said. “We must change.”

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November 20, 2017 at 03:25PM

SIU-Carbondale chancellor: We must spend more on teaching, less on administration

The University of Illinois at Chicago is in “preliminary discussions” with John Marshall Law School about…

The University of Illinois at Chicago is in “preliminary discussions” with John Marshall Law School about the law school becoming a part of the university, which would create the only public law school in the city.

UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis and Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan Poser disclosed the discussions in a campuswide memo today, noting that the institutions’ missions are complementary and would allow for opportunities that “bridge the discipline of law with the disciplinary strengths of UIC.”

While the talks are still “exploratory,” the school has decided to advance them beyond an initial consultant’s report and internal review.

“We have also examined carefully the financial feasibility of such an initiative, as well as the immediate and future impact on the operation and strength of the new school,” the memo said. “The initial reports we have received from an external consulting group and from our own internal analysis are positive and have led us to the decision to broaden these discussions to the full constituencies of UIC and JMLS, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, and donors, as well as members of the wider community.”

UIC’s leaders noted that any new arrangement would require approvals from a host of groups, including the University of Illinois board of trustees, John Marshall’s board of trustees, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission.

The University of Illinois at Chicago is in “preliminary discussions” with John Marshall Law School about…

Blackburn to offer valedictorian, salutatorian scholarship

Blackburn College in Carlinville is offering high school valedictorians and salutatorians up to five years of tuition free.

In a release, the school said it will be offer the free years — worth about $100,000 per student — to valedictorians and salutatorians from across the country.

Students who accept the tuition-free education will be requird to participate in the Blackburn Work Program, live on campus and maintain a 3.2 cumulative grade point average.

More information about the scholarship program is available on the school’s website.

11:23 pm |

Commentary: The state’s no good, very bad year

5:43 am |

46 cited after state finds 6,400 acres baited for deer hunts

5:42 am |

Getting in the holiday spirit

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November 18, 2017 at 10:24PM

Blackburn to offer valedictorian, salutatorian scholarship