U of I System extends in-state tuition freeze

students walking on campus

University trustees continued a tuition freeze for in-state freshmen next fall. (Photo: Fan Wang)

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday approved a fifth-straight tuition freeze for in-state freshmen next fall, extending an affordability initiative that is now the longest run of back-to-back freezes in more than a half-century.

Trustees also approved 2019-20 tuition for non-residents that will hold increases to the rate of inflation or less, along with student fees and housing costs for the system’s universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.

The fifth straight year of unchanged rates for Illinois freshman is the longest since a seven-year freeze from 1962 to 1968.

President Tim Killeen said the ongoing efforts to hold the line on tuition are rooted in a commitment to access and affordability that has helped drive system-wide enrollment to record highs for six straight years. Since the fall of 2014, when in-state tuition last increased, enrollment has grown by 7,420 students, or 9.4 percent, to a record 85,960 students.

That includes 3,345 more Illinois undergraduates, which increased 7.8 percent across the system from the fall of 2014 to the fall of 2018. The in-state tuition freeze has helped the U of I System lead efforts to halt an outmigration to colleges in other states, which causes long-term harm to the Illinois economy because studies show that graduates typically stay to work in the state where they study.

“This historic tuition freeze is providing life-changing opportunities for even more Illinois students, and fueling the pipeline of world-class talent that is crucial to move our state forward,” Killeen said.

Under the state’s guaranteed tuition law, rates for incoming students from Illinois will remain unchanged for four years. The measure was enacted in 2004 to help students and families plan for the cost of a public university education by fixing tuition rates for the four years required to complete most undergraduate degree programs.

Because of the guaranteed tuition law, Killeen said in-state students who enroll next fall will pay the same rate for their senior year in 2022-23 as students who enrolled in the fall of 2014 – nearly a decade earlier.

Nationally, tuition and fees rose by an average 2.5 percent at four-year public colleges and universities for the 2018-19 academic year, based on the latest survey by the College Board, a non-profit association representing U.S. colleges and universities. During the first four years of the U of I System’s freeze, tuition and fees increased by a cumulative average of 11.8 percent among four-year public colleges and universities, according to the College Board.

Base tuition for in-state undergraduates next fall will mirror rates that have held steady since the 2014-15 academic year – $12,036 a year in Urbana-Champaign, $10,584 in Chicago, and $9,405 in Springfield. There also will be no change to undergraduate tuition differentials at any of the universities. Differentials cover the additional costs of providing the highest-quality education in selected areas of study.

For out-of-state and international freshmen, tuition will increase to keep pace with inflation. Rates will increase by 2 percent or less next fall in Urbana-Champaign and in Chicago. Rates for all non-resident freshmen will remain unchanged in Springfield.

Tuition for several graduate and professional programs will increase in Urbana-Champaign and Chicago, most by 2 percent or less, but will remain at current levels in Springfield.

Rates also were set for the John Marshall Law School, a private college that is in the final stages of approval to become part of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) next fall, creating the city’s first public law school. Tuition for a juris doctor degree will be $36,000 annually for in-state residents, and $45,000 for non-residents. As a private institution, John Marshall currently charges nearly $47,000 annually, regardless of residency.

Killeen said the commitment to student affordability and access was reaffirmed in a Strategic Framework for the system that was adopted in 2016, setting high-aspiration goals to build on service to students and the public good.

Along with freezing tuition, the U of I System has ramped up internal efforts to protect the most financially vulnerable students. Over the last decade, total institutional financial aid – including tuition waivers, grants, scholarships and fellowships – has increased almost threefold to $231 million a year, exceeding total aid from state and federal sources. Through state, federal, university and donor-provided financial aid, half of undergraduates pay less than full sticker price across the system’s three universities.

Undergraduate fees/housing

The board also approved mandatory student fees and room-and-board rates for the 2019-20 academic year.

The fees exclude student health insurance rates, which will be set in the spring. Fees approved Thursday help fund costs such as operating campus recreational facilities, student unions, career services, athletics, counseling centers and libraries, and also help with facility maintenance, renovations and utilities.

Those mandatory fees will remain unchanged in Springfield at $2,426 a year. Fees will increase 0.9 percent, or $28, to $3,086 a year in Urbana-Champaign. In Chicago, fees will increase 3.6 percent, or $116, to $3,308 a year, largely to finance debt service for expansion and remodeling of campus student centers.

Undergraduate room-and-board costs will increase 1.5 percent for the 2019-2020 academic year in Urbana-Champaign after two years with no increases. The standard double-occupancy room and meal plan will increase by $162 to $10,774 per year. Similar to the guaranteed four-year tuition policy, room-and-board costs in Urbana-Champaign are locked in for up to four years if students continue to live in campus residence halls.

In Chicago, the cost for a standard double-occupancy room and meal plan will increase 1.7 percent, or $190, to $11,260 per year. In Springfield, a standard housing and gold meal plan will remain unchanged at $10,810 per year.

Credit Union 1 Arena

The board also approved renaming the UIC Pavilion, a 9,500-seat multi-purpose center on the Chicago campus, as Credit Union 1 Arena.

Credit Union 1, a member-owned financial cooperative with branches in Illinois, Indiana and Nevada, will pay the university $9.3 million under a 15-year agreement for naming rights. The Rantoul-based credit union also is contributing $750,000 toward student scholarships at UIC.

The arena, which opened in 1982, is home to sporting events, including UIC men’s and women’s basketball; the university’s convocation and commencement ceremonies; concerts; and other events.

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