Daily Egyptian

Board discusses MAP payback, future of towers, budget impasse ahead of Thursday meeting

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

The SIU Board of Trustees heard presentations Wednesday morning ranging from potential tuition hikes to proposals for new dorms on the east side of Carbondale’s campus.

Here’s what the nine trustees discussed during the executive meeting. They will vote on some of the following issues Thursday morning. 

Will students who received MAP grants this year have to pay SIU back? 

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This fall, the university funded Monetary Award Program grants to meet the financial needs of 4,766 eligible undergraduate students with the expectation that the state would refund it.  

SIU President Randy Dunn said university administrators don’t know if they are going to charge those students or if they will just “eat it” and let them keep the money.

Carbondale student trustee Allen Shelton said this would be tough on students because it is money they need to go to school.

“MAP grant is a need-based grant, so it’s not like its extra money thrown on top of your scholarships,” Shelton said after the meeting. “Just at a first glance, I don’t think that would be realistic.”

MORE: Loss of MAP grants could cost students more than money | Rauner vetoes MAP grant bill

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed two bills that would have funded the state’s MAP grants. 

Illinois universities and colleges have gone 267 days without state funding.

SIU still includes MAP grants on the scholarship and grant money for prospective students, even though the state might not fund the program next fiscal year.

Will SIUC tear down the towers? 

The board said it will consider renovating or tearing down the Towers on East Campus. 

Renovating the 50-year-old buildings would take nine summers — costing an estimated $233 million, including inflation — by the time renovations end in 2026.

Water pipes in the 17-story Towers have been deteriorating for years, Lori Stettler, interim chancellor of student affairs, said Wednesday. The university spends half a million dollars every year ripping walls out in the Towers to repair leaky pipes.

The other option is to demolish the towers — which houses two-thirds of SIUC’s on-campus students — and build four six-story dormitories on the east side of campus, which would cost an estimated $257 million.

SIU would demolish one Tower at a time after new dorms are built to house students. This process would be complete by 2027.

The six buildings would house 2,300 more students than the three Towers and feature two-story suites.

“Housing really draws in a lot of prospective students,” Shelton said. “If your campus is attractive to students, that will sway students’ decisions. High school students look at everything.”

Implementing an age requirement for on-campus living was also discussed at Wednesday’s meeting. Students younger than 20 years old could possibly be required live on campus, drawing in more revenue for the school. Now the policy is that all freshmen must live on campus.

What did Dunn say about the budget impasse?

Dunn said he would “dance in the streets” if Rauner and the Democratic-led Legislature pass a bill to fund higher education. 

The fiscal year 2016 budget is irrelevant now, Dunn said, and if the university is in the same situation by July 1, “We cannot sustain that for another year.”

Will incoming SIUC students pay more?

The board said it will vote tomorrow on a 3 percent tuition hike for incoming SIUC students, which would generate about $1.5 million in tuition revenue. 

This would be an increase of $8.83 per credit hour.

“Will that 3 percent be enough? Probably not,” interim Chancellor Brad Colwell said. “But given the constituency that we serve and given the competition that we have … we thought 3 percent would probably be the safest place to land given all the variables.” 

SIUE is facing either a 7 percent or a 9 percent hike in tuition. 

“Nine percent doesn’t sound bad, but it could have a problem with accessibility,” board member Joel Sambursky said. “I get nauseous at 9 percent, I get nervous at 7 percent. And that’s a reality that we face in a high education institution in Illinois.”

The board will also vote on uncapping tuition for incoming SIUC students. 

Right now, students who take 21 credits pay the same tuition as full-time students taking 12 credit hours. If approved Thursday, incoming students will pay for every credit hour they take. 

SIUE has already uncapped its tuition. 

Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3304.

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