SIU board to consider 3.9 percent tuition increase for Carbondale campus

CARBONDALE — The SIU Board of Trustees on Thursday is expected to take up a proposal that would increase the in-state undergraduate tuition rate by 3.9 percent for the Carbondale campus and eliminate out-of-state and other alternative tuition rates for incoming students. 

The recommendations before the board additionally seek increases to room-and-board rates and some fees.

If approved, the increase would bring annual tuition costs for an undergraduate SIU Carbondale student to $9,450, or roughly $37,800 for a bachelor’s degree earned in four years.

The agenda item outlined in the board packet states as rationale for the tuition increase that the adjustment is “needed to fund additional cost obligations of the university.” Without this additional funding, the quality of educational opportunities for students would be diminished,” it states.

Rae Goldsmith, SIU’s chief marketing and communications officer, said that the tuition increase that administrators are seeking is not related to the budget impasse. 

The proposed tuition increase is projected to result in $2.9 million in new revenue, based on flat enrollment, Goldsmith said.

The policy recommendation also calls for all undergraduate students beginning in fall 2017 or thereafter to pay the in-state tuition rate, regardless of what state they call home. Incoming freshmen, transfer and graduate students from bordering states — Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Wisconsin — are already paying the in-state rate.

Goldsmith said that because current policy permits many out-of-state students to be classified as Illinois residents for tuition assessment purposes, only 64 domestic out-of-state undergraduate students paid the out-of-state tuition rate in fall 2016.

The difference in out-of-state and in-state tuition is roughly $13,000. The change would only apply to incoming undergraduate students.

The university’s current mix of alternative tuition rates also includes special rates for students from border states, legacy students and high achievers, among others. According to Goldsmith, the various rates have resulted in misunderstanding and confusion, particularly for students who may qualify for multiple alternative rates. Some rates require separate applications. As of deadline, Goldsmith said she was still seeking clarification on whether all of these special rates would be eliminated under the proposal the board will take up Thursday. 

Goldsmith said that in addition to simplifying the rate structure, university leaders also hope the policy change attracts more out-of-state students from beyond those bordering Illinois.

Though many public schools across the country charge in-state and out-of-state tuition, Goldsmith said that other universities have made this change in recent years, including Western Illinois University as of its summer 2016 semester.

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The policy eliminating out-of-state and other alternative tuition rates also is sought for the SIU Edwardsville campus, as well as a 5 percent increase to that school’s undergraduate tuition rates.

If approved, SIU Carbondale’s tuition will be 35 percent more than it was a decade ago.

During the 2007-2008 academic year, tuition for incoming students was $6,975, or about $27,900 for four years. Still, Goldsmith said that the university offers the lowest undergraduate tuition rate of all Illinois institutions that grant doctoral degrees.

The proposal also calls for a 6 percent increase in room rates in each of the next three fiscal years at the residence halls and a 3 percent increase in rates for Wall and Grand apartments and Evergreen Terrace apartments. Additionally, it includes a 1.9 percent increase for meal plans.

According to the proposal as outlined in the board packet, the increase in room rates will “allow for continued investment in on-campus housing facilities to address deferred maintenance and other continuous repair, safety and improvement projects” and be used to offset costs for such things as escalating utility and food costs.

SIU board to consider 3.9 percent tuition increase for Carbondale campus

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