University of Illinois freezes in-state tuition for fourth year

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University of Illinois board members approved a fourth consecutive base tuition freeze for incoming in-state students, a move partially aimed at attracting more Illinoisans to the system’s three campuses.

Trustees voted unanimously Thursday morning to keep base tuition rates the same for Illinois residents who enroll as undergraduates at Urbana-Champaign, Chicago or Springfield in the 2018-19 school year.

University President Timothy Killeen announced this month that he would propose fixing the base tuition for the fourth time. The last time the university locked tuition rates for this long was from 1974 to 1977.

Illinois residents this fall will pay $12,036 a year at Urbana-Champaign, $10,584 at Chicago and $9,405 in Springfield. Those are the same base rates paid by in-state students enrolled each year since 2014. The total price of attendance is more than double that after adding in fees, and room and board.

While base tuition remains the same, there will be higher rates for several categories of fees and room and board this year. Students in prominent programs like engineering and business will also continue to pay higher tuition.

Board Chairman Timothy Koritz in supporting the freeze pointed to recent data confirming that Illinois is continuing to lose its homegrown students to other states for college.

Statistics from the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the National Center of Education Statistics show more than 19,000 Illinois residents left the state to attend college in fall 2016, the most recent year available. Only New Jersey loses more of its students to other states.

According to the state board, Iowa, Indiana and Wisconsin universities each enrolled more than 4,000 Illinois students in 2016. Illinoisans comprised one-third of all the non-resident students enrolling in Iowa and Wisconsin schools that year, and about one-fourth of the influx to Indiana universities.

“We need to make it a priority to reverse this trend,” Koritz said.

Illinois’ Truth In Tuition law requires universities to keep tuition rates the same for four years but schools can increase other costs of attendance.

Fees at Urbana-Champaign will increase by $20, to $3,058 per year. Non-resident and international student tuition will go up by 1.6 percent. Room and board will remain the same.

There also will be a per-semester increase for international students in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences for the first time this year. Those students will add $750 to their tuition each term starting in the fall.

Killeen said money generated from that will help fund programs and scholarships for first-generation, underrepresented and need-based Illinois students.

Fees at the Chicago campus will go up $14, to $3,146 a year. Base tuition will rise 1.4 percent to 1.5 percent for out-of-state students and 1.6 percent for international students. Standard room and board charges will increase 1 percent, to $11,070 per year.

Annual fees at the Springfield campus are to increase $200, to $2,426, starting in the spring. The change incorporates a student-approved charge to help pay for a new student union. Tuition rates for non-resident freshman students and the price for the standard housing and meal plan will not change.

Barbara Wilson, vice president for academic affairs, said the tuition freeze means University of Illinois schools compare favorably to other Big Ten and peer institutions that have raised rates by higher percentages in the last few years. Wilson also said University of Illinois enrolls a higher percentage of in-state students than similar schools.

But even with the tuition freeze, all three University of Illinois institutions post some of the highest rates for tuition and fees compared to schools of similar size and prestige. Urbana-Champaign’s rates for first-time, full-time undergraduates are the second highest among schools that include University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin and several schools in the University of California system, Wilson said.

Trustee Donald Edwards called on university administration to explore why University of Illinois is consistently pricier than its competitors.

“We remain high in terms of tuition but we receive about the average of our operating funds from the state versus our peers,” Edwards said. “We’re headed in the right direction but we have a lot of work to do.”

In other business, trustees re-elected Koritz to serve as chairman of the board. Koritz assumed the top seat on the board for the first time last year.

drhodes@chicagotribune.com

@rhodes_dawn

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January 18, 2018 at 02:30PM

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University of Illinois freezes in-state tuition for fourth year

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