IL Tuition

Amy Bauer

The bill will take effect in fall of 2004 at the earliest. The fixed rate is set upon acceptance to one of the Illinois public universities and guaranteed for four years.

Abby Ottenhoff, press secretary for Blagojevich, said in the case a student goes beyond the four allotted years, he or she “will be subject to whatever the rate is at the time.”

While the proposed law is intended to save students money in the long run, students’ initial tuition fees may be quite a bit higher to accommodate future costs. A 10 percent increase in tuition is a possibility for the first class to take advantage of the new program. However, Ottenhoff seemed optimistic about the potential cost inflation.

“We’re hoping (it won’t go up) very much,” Ottenhoff said. “It’s up to the universities to make sure students from all economic backgrounds have the opportunity to go to school.”

Western Illinois University has been using a policy similar to the Truth in Tuition law since the fall of 1999. Its plan, called the Cost Guarantee Program, has thus far resulted in a 26.9 percent savings for students. At WIU, students can benefit from the plan only if they remain continuously enrolled.

John Maguire, a spokesman for WIU, is confident the Cost Guarantee Program will remain independent of the Truth in Tuition law.

“Our cost guarantee is for tuition, room and board, and student fees,” he said. “We do not anticipate any challenges.”

It has not yet been decided if the Truth in Tuition law will stay in effect should a student transfer to another Illinois public university, Ottenhoff said.

For those content to remain at their college, the bill seems to be a popular idea. Shaheen Nageeb, a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is enthusiastic about the law’s possibilities.

“Two years ago (tuition) was so much less,” she said. “And it’s been going up like crazy.”

Whether or not public universities in Wisconsin will adopt a policy similar to the Truth in Tuition law is unclear. The in-state cost of attending UW-Madison is currently $5,140, contrasted with $5,226 at U of I. With comparable in-state costs, such a bill could be a possibility. However, no advances toward a fixed rate guarantee have been made thus far.

Cathie Hanlon, bursar at UW-Madison, said the UW system has considered a similar program, but nothing has come to the forefront.

“The University of Wisconsin Board of regents has made a commitment to looking into it and making sure the way our tuition is set up is the best way,” she said. “We’re considering the possibilities but it’s nowhere near the point to list viable options.”

At Marquette, a law similar to the Truth in Tuition bill would not be a likely occurrence. Ben Tracy, director of university communication, said there are immense discrepancies between public and private universities which make such a proposal more difficult.

“It is much harder for private schools,” Tracy said. “We don’t have the public state dollars (for funding). We don’t want to box ourselves into a corner.”

At WIU, retention rate has increased over the past four years with the Cost Guarantee in effect. The remaining Illinois university system will strive for a comparable result.