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U of I approves tuition, fee, housing rates
Cost increases for 2014-15 in line with rate of inflation

Jan. 23, 2014 

CHICAGO – The University of Illinois Board of Trustees on Thursday approved a 1.7 percent tuition increase for incoming freshmen next fall that tracks with the rate of inflation and matches an increase adopted last year that was the smallest in nearly two decades.

Trustees also approved fee and housing rates for the 2014-15 academic year that, combined with tuition, hold overall increases in student costs to 2.4 percent or less on each of the University’s three campuses.

The tuition increase is based on an inflation-neutral tuition-setting policy enacted by Trustees three years ago that aims to hold growth in rates to the cost-of-living or below, barring significant reductions in state funding or other University support. The increase for 2014-15 is in line with national inflation indices and projections.

Guaranteed four-year tuition for incoming in-state freshmen will increase the equivalent of 0.7 percent per year during the four years that rates are locked in under the state’s guaranteed tuition law. The tuition guarantee was launched in 2004 to help students and families plan for the cost of a public university education by locking in tuition rates for the four years required to complete most undergraduate degree programs.

The 1.7 percent tuition hike matches last fall’s increase – the smallest since 1994 – and would increase tuition by about $200 a year or less on each of the University’s three campuses. Base tuition for in-state students will increase $202 to $12,036 a year in Urbana-Champaign, $178 to $10,584 in Chicago, and $158 to $9,405 in Springfield.

President Robert Easter said the University will continue its efforts to hold down costs, despite looming financial threats that include changes in the state’s pension system and the scheduled expiration of a state income tax increase in January 2014.

“The University of Illinois was founded to provide an affordable, high-quality education for the children of all classes, and we will do everything we can to fulfill that critical mission through our ongoing efforts to control costs and increase private giving,” Easter said.

Trustees also approved student fees for the 2014-15 academic year, excluding student health insurance rates, which are typically established in March. At the Urbana campus, those fees will increase 2.3 percent, or $68, to $2,984 per year, and Chicago’s fees will rise 1.7 percent, or $52, to $3,062 per year. At Springfield, fees will increase 4.1 percent, or $78, to $1,970 per year, due largely to an increase in the health services fee.

Undergraduate room-and-board costs at the Urbana campus, based on the standard double-occupancy room and 14-meal-per-week plan, will rise 2 percent, or $201, to $10,180 per year. At the Chicago campus, costs will increase 2.5 percent, or $257, to $10,518 per year. At the Springfield campus, the cost for a double-occupancy room in Lincoln Residence Hall with a full meal plan will increase 2.9 percent, or $300 to $10,650 per year.

Combined, student costs for tuition, fees and housing will increase 1.9 percent in Urbana, 2 percent in Chicago and 2.4 percent in Springfield.

Pension review

The board approved a resolution directing Easter and top administrators to assess the impact of pending changes in the state’s pension system and explore options to help preserve employee retirement benefits.

A competitive compensation plan is vital to recruit and retain top faculty and staff, university officials say, but public pension funding changes approved by the legislature in December would put the U of I at a disadvantage by reducing cost-of-living increases, increasing retirement ages and capping pensionable salaries.

Easter and his staff will examine alternatives to help offset some of the impacts, including supplemental pension programs offered by other universities, and make recommendations to the board before the new state pension funding changes take effect on June 1, 2014.

State Farm Center renovation

Trustees approved selling revenue bonds to finance a $160 million renovation of State Farm Center, a 50-year-old sports and entertainment complex on the Urbana campus.

Upgrades include adding luxury suites, expanding the center’s floor to accommodate larger conventions and entertainment events, and installing air conditioning to allow for year-round programming.

Major work is expected to begin this spring, and renovations are expected to be completed in November 2016 – with yearly stoppages to accommodate basketball season.

Bonds to fund the project could go on sale in February, and would be financed over 30 years at a cost not to exceed $270 million, including interest payments. The bonds will be financed through a $60 million agreement with State Farm Insurance Companies, which bought naming rights to the former Assembly Hall last year; private donations; an annual fee approved by students last spring to fund renovations; seat licensing; ticket surcharges; and revenue from the Big Ten Network.

UIS student union

The board gave project and design approval for a proposed student union on the Springfield campus, a move that allows officials to continue planning and fundraising for the new facility.

The proposed student union would be the first on the Springfield campus, and is needed to fill a void that officials say has grown since UIS became part of the University of Illinois in 1995. The campus was originally founded in 1969 as Sangamon State University, catering to upperclassmen and graduate-level students, but is now a traditional four-year school that lacks a centerpiece of campus life that student unions provide at most colleges across the nation.

Design plans developed by Dewberry Architects of Peoria propose a two-story, 50,000-square foot student union that would anchor the campus’s south quad. The proposed $21.7 million facility would include restaurants, social and study space, and larger areas for student and campus events.

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The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 78,000 students, more than 23,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.