JALC Board of Trustees approves raise in tuition and fees

JALC Board of Trustees approves raise in tuition and fees

The John A. Logan College Board of Trustees has approved a raise in tuition and fees at a meeting held on Tuesday, August 30.

The board approved the raise 7 to 1.

The one “no” vote was made by the student trustee.

“The uncertainty and lack of a state budget has forced our hand on this,” Dean for Student Services Tim Williams said. “We’ve been forced to become more independent do with less state funding.

“This is just one of the many things we have done over the last six months to address the issue.”

The increase consists of a $6 per credit hour raise in tuition and the addition of a $60 activity fee for any student taking six credit hours or more.

Before, students paid a total of $109 per credit hour with an additional $5 in fees. In the spring in 2017, those numbers will change to $115 per credit hour, with an additional $60 in fees.

Williams said the activity fee allows students access to the college’s community health education center, covers admission to any student activities and covers costs for one adult education class per semester.

Despite the spikes, enrollment is up by 552 students for fall 2016, when compared to fall 2015, for a 16 percent increase.

JALC Board of Trustees approves raise in tuition and fees

SIUC ranks as top-25 college for adult learners

SIUC ranks as top-25 college for adult learners

By Cory Ray
August 30, 2016
Filed under Campus, News

SIU’s Carbondale campus ranked among the top-25 best four-year colleges for adult learners in the Washington Monthly’s 2016 College Guide.

SIUC ranks 21 on the list — the highest in Illinois for public and private universities.

“For students, I think it recognizes the resilience of the population,” assistant dean of students Deborah Barnett said. “They are coming back to school in large numbers, and they are completing their degrees successfully.”

Washington Monthly classifies adult learners as students who are older than the age of 25.

The ranking lists seven criteria:

  1. Ease of transfer
  2. Flexibility of programs
  3. Services for adult students
  4. Tuition and fees
  5. Students over the age of 25
  6. Adult student median earnings
  7. Loan repayment

SIUC received the maximum amount of points possible for three categories: ease of transfer, flexibility of programs and services for adult.

Twenty percent of SIUC students are older than 25, according to Washington Monthly.

“It’s really more of a tip of the hat — recognizing what we do,” SIU spokeswoman Rae Goldsmith said. “But it’s all a nice signal to other people who might be considered adult learners or nontraditional students that we might have something to offer them here.”

Staff writer Cory Ray can be reached at 618-536-3326, [email protected] or on Twitter .

To stay up to date with all your Carbondale news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

SIUC ranks as top-25 college for adult learners

WIU Finances Stable — For Now

WIU Finances Stable — For Now

Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas said the state’s stop-gap spending measure helped the university for the fall semester, but he cautioned it’s not designed to get any of the state’s public universities through the entire fiscal year.

He said universities would benefit if the governor and lawmakers agreed to a full year spending plan — and did that sooner rather than later.

“When they approved the bridge (stop-gap plan), a lot of the legislators were very adamant about it that this is just what it is — a bridge to get us into this semester and into this academic school year. Hopefully it (a full year budget) is going to happen very, very soon,” Thomas said during an interview with Tri States Public Radio.

The radio story

Thomas said the stop-gap measure provided WIU with $36.5 million in state appropriations plus $5.1 million in Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant funding. Lawmakers approved the stop-gap measure at the end of June in the waning hours of Fiscal Year ’16. Thomas said some of that money was used to pay off bills from last fiscal year — when the university received little state financial support and was forced to spend down its reserves — and the rest is being applied to this year’s expenses.

WIU’s finances are also benefiting now from the tuition and fees collected at the start of a semester. The Fall 2016 semester began August 22.  It’s still not known how many students are attending classes. The university’s official enrollment will be released after the tenth day of the semester (which is Friday, September 2).  Thomas said it appears freshman enrollment will be “pretty good.” But he said overall enrollment will probably be down.

“It’s not as bad as we may think it would have been, but we feel that we’ve done some wonderful things in recruiting students here,” said Thomas.

He said everybody at the university is responsible for helping with recruitment and thanked those who pitched in.  He said Western has increased its number of high school visits, decreased tuition by 3% for incoming students, and continued its cost guarantee program.

“We’re the only institution (in Illinois) that does (a cost guarantee program) not just tuition but room and board and fees as well. That makes Western a very appealing institution,” Thomas said.

“And we’re not just bringing in students but bringing in students of quality. We continue to enhance our overall ACT as well as our overall grade point average.”

He also said WIU is placing a renewed emphasis on recruiting in its own backyard by focusing on a 16 county region in west central Illinois.

The university said more than 3,000 students enrolled in summer classes, but summer school enrollment was down by 249 students.  Those figures include classes taken in-person and on-line.

The university believes its staffing levels are down this school year as well, though the figures for this year are not yet ready. The school employed around 1,900 people a year ago.  During the course of the school year, as the university struggled with the lack of a state appropriation, 59 workers took advantage of an early retirement program offered by the school and Western laid off 110 employees.  Western said 87 positions have been recalled, though some of those workers have moved on so WIU is still in the process of filling some of those jobs.

Thomas said it’s his goal to keep staffing levels stable but that depends upon the state providing more funding.

“In my testimonies before the House and Senate, and in our discussions with the governor and the legislators, these are things that we will be talking about,” Thomas said.

“We have reduced. And we’ve cut back in various areas.  We have reduced staff. We have reduced some in faculty and administrators. So we’ve done the major things that we needed to do to move forward and hopefully we will not have to do any more reductions.”

Thomas cautioned he cannot make any promises because of the uncertainty of state funding.  But he said Western will find a way to carry on.

“Western is not closing. That’s not an option,” he said. “We’ve gone through changes. We will continue to make the very tough decisions to get to where this university should be and where we want it to be.”

Copyright 2016 WIUM-FM. To see more, visit WIUM-FM.
WIU Finances Stable — For Now

College Illinois! appears headed for a future bailout – Illinois News Network

College Illinois! appears headed for a future bailout – Illinois News Network

ILLINOIS NEWS NETWORK

Many families concerned with the unpredictability of future tuition rates in Illinois have turned to pre-paid tuition programs, hoping for some kind of guarantee they will be able to afford their children’s tuition when the time comes.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission, or ISAC, launched College Illinois!, the state’s 529 Prepaid Tuition Program, in 1998. The oft-criticized program has been suspended in the past and now is struggling to find new contract buyers who are looking to pre-pay future students’ college expenses.

Now facing lagging sales of new contracts, the program is facing the possibility it could be out of money by 2026.

A cash infusion in excess of $108 million in 2025 would be required to sustain the program, according to an actuarial soundness valuation report provided to College Illinois! in June 2015 by Gabriel Roeder Smith & Company, an independent consulting and actuarial firm based in Chicago.

ISAC Executive Director Eric Zarnikow said more than 70,000 contracts have been sold and more than 30,000 students have gone to college using College Illinois! benefits since the program’s inception.

“The program has been challenged over the years by the Great Recession and double-digit tuition inflation,” Zarnikow said. “More recently, contract sales have been impacted by lack of trust in the state as a result of the ongoing fiscal crisis.”

The program halted for more than a year after a 2011 Crain’s Chicago Business investigation revealed the risky nature of the $1 billion investment fund supporting the program, which relies substantially on hedge funds and other alternative investments.

Four years after the program reopened, it sold 473 new contracts by the end of May, 2016 when the current sales season ended – a 27 percent drop from last year’s 646. And in 2014, the program sold only 438 new contracts, Crain’s reported.

To support future obligations, the program must sell more than twice the number of new agreements it sold in 2015 – 1,500 new contracts annually, according to the commission actuaries’ projections. Without a dramatic increase in the number of sold contracts, Gabriel Roeder Smith & Company’s report estimates that College Illinois! is in danger of running out of money in 10 years.

Robert DiMeo, co-founder and managing director of Chicago-based pension consultant DiMeo Schneider & Associates LLC, used the program for his two sons, but said he would think twice about the program now.

“Certainly, when I look at the financial condition of the state – and then I think it is widely known that the financial condition of this program is not optimal – yeah, I think that would cause a participant or a potential participant to pause and at least gain a better understanding of all of that,” he said.

Zarnikow, however, has said families have little cause for worry because prepaid tuition program funds are held separately in a trust fund at the Northern Trust Company, “and by law can only be used to pay plan benefits and operate the program.”

“All financial plans, however, including College Illinois!, involve risks,” he said. “With respect to College Illinois!, the state of Illinois has a moral obligation requiring the governor to request funding from the Illinois General Assembly in the event it is determined that the program does not have adequate assets to meet its contractual obligations in an upcoming fiscal year.”

Zarnikow added that the General Assembly has a moral obligation to bail out the program if it is determined it does not have adequate assets to meet contractual obligations – but it is not obligated to provide funding.

“What’s more likely is that the state has an obligation, and if the money is not available someday in the future, there will be discussions by the legislature about subsidizing the program,” said state Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington.

The Republican lawmaker noted that any program that “relies on a sale tomorrow to pay a debt of today is fundamentally flawed.”

“I firmly believe that the state needs to offer college affordability programs that allow low, middle and other-class families to plan and save responsibly for college, especially these days when we’re dealing with staggering tuition costs,” Barickman said. “But in doing (so), the state has to be financially responsible to taxpayers, too.”

College Illinois! appears headed for a future bailout – Illinois News Network