AS IT IS: Soaring costs at IVCC, elsewhere

It’s no secret that college costs are rising fast.

Our very own Illinois Valley Community College is no different.

The other day, we reported the cost per credit hour at the college rose from $45 to $116.50 from 1999 to the present. That’s a dramatic increase.

But let’s put this in perspective.

When you consider the rate of inflation, the increase is not so large. If the price per credit had only kept up with inflation, the cost per credit today would be about $83. So inflation can be blamed more than half the hike, but it still leaves $33.50 per credit hour unexplained.

Community colleges are traditionally cheaper than universities, but both have experienced cost increases well beyond the inflation rate for decades.

According to a 2015 CNBC story, schools are providing more amenities and top-tier faculty as they compete for the best and brightest — and well-off — students. The rising costs of college sports also play a role.

I spoke with Cheryl Roelfesema, IVCC’s vice president of business services and finance, about the spikes in tuition costs. She said the increases at her school are the result of a drop in state funding and a stagnant property tax base in the district.

“We’ve done a pretty good job at holding down costs,” she said. “We’ve had reasonable salary increases. Employee benefits are a large expense.”

Anyone looking at higher education must be wary about the expense. Many college graduates spend much of their life paying off college loans. Former President Barack Obama only finished paying off his loans in 2004, just four years before he was elected leader of the free world.

College debt is not necessarily something people shed in middle age. According to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the number of those 60 or older with student loan debt grew from about 700,000 to 2.8 million from 2005 to 2015. Their total bill is $66.7 billion.

And here you thought your 30-year mortgage was long term.

Paper lives on

Much was written in our newspaper last year about the Illinois Valley Times, which a conservative group started mailing to residents last summer. It was intended to promote the candidacies of Republicans Jerry Long, of Streator, and David Welter, of Morris, both of whom won their races for state representative. Both men are allies of Gov. Bruce Rauner.

After their victories, the Illinois Valley Times disappeared in its print form, as far as we could tell. But the other day, a fellow reporter found a copy of the Feb. 6 edition at a Peru gas station.

The print edition contained little about the Illinois Valley in particular, other than event listings, a scholarship that is available for La Salle County residents and a high school program. The rest of the stories were to promote Rauner and attack the governor’s political opponent, House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The online version of the Illinois Valley Times has continued, but the writers appear to live far away from here. One hails from the Philippines.

When it comes to reporting, you need to burn some shoe leather — locally.

Old-fashioned policies

Farm Ridge Township’s clerk told me the other day the township doesn’t accept open records requests via email. South Ottawa Township maintains the same policy. Both require such requests be mailed or dropped off.

This is what it takes to get meeting minutes — something that could be posted on Facebook in a minute.

Keep in mind, it’s 2017.

  • David Giuliani is a reporter for The Times. His weekly column “As It Is” expands upon regular news coverage by adding his insight and ideas. He can be reached at 815-431-4041 or Follow him on Twitter at @tt_dgiuliani.



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February 20, 2017 at 12:16PM

AS IT IS: Soaring costs at IVCC, elsewhere

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