Tuition increases 16 percent next year

By Gus Bode

a href=”https://www.dailyegyptian.com/contactus.html”bDE Staff Reporter/b/abrspan class=”realsmall”bDaily Egyptian/b/span

Tuition increases 16 percent next year

Wendler kept promises for last year’s hike

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Note to editors:it is workships, not workshops (it’s the name of the program)

Nearly one year and 18 percent into a set of tuition hikes that Chancellor Walter Wendler proposed last year, students are bracing themselves for another 16 percent increase next fall.

The increase will send tuition and fees to above $5,500 for the year.

Wendler lobbied last year for a 49 percent 4-year hike, including a 7-percent increase in fiscal year 2005 and 8 percent in fiscal year 2006, with promises for increased quality of education, going so far as to dedicate $3.5 million for fiscal year 2003 to undergraduate programs.

He also set aside $1.2 million for graduate assistants and $1 million for classroom upgrades.

“I did exactly what I said I would,” Wendler said. “If my word was not good, then I couldn’t lead this University.

“What I said is what I did.”

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But Wendler has not decided how to spend the extra $650 each student will pay next year. Although he promised next year’s tuition raise to salary increases, a base of student support and Southern at 150 initiatives, he has not developed a plan for delivery as he had for this year’s increases. He has also yet to decide how much money to give to each program.

Until Gov. Rod Blagojevich gives his budget address in April, Wendler is uncomfortable planning next year’s finances with the University’s budget hanging in the balance. Right now, Wendler is uncertain how much the state will cut the University’s budget or how much will be needed to compensate fiscal losses.

“A year ago we did not know how bad our budget picture was going to be right now,” Wendler said. “This is a record-breaking year in the worst way.”

But Wendler still intends to make good on all promises he made while lobbying for the increase last year, even though the Faculty Association members were guaranteed 2-percent increases for the fiscal year 2004 under their new contract. Salary increases are supposed to be supported by the tuition increase during fiscal year 2004.

“They said they wouldn’t accept the use of tuition money for increases,” Wendler said. “But look at the budget, that the only place there’s money to give.”

Association spokesman James Kelly said the group had not wanted to students to pay for faculty raises. He said the union agreed with the Undergraduate Student Government in that the hike was too much too fast.

“We never said that the administration should raise tuition in order to raise faculty,” said Kelly, an associate professor of journalism. “That’s not what we wanted.”

This year, Wendler’s plan strayed only with the $1.5 million that to be given to undergraduate workships because time constraints prevented the delivery of the full amount to the program. Instead, funds were divvied between assistantships and across-the board 50-cent raises for campus workers.

“We only had three months – from May to August to get things up and running,” Wendler said. “That’s like the speed of light. You can’t get anything done at a university in three months.”

This year, $1 million was given to undergraduate scholarships, more than doubling its budget for a total of $1.78 million for the year, according to Daniel Mann, director of the Financial Aid Office.

He said it allowed the University to award 450 additional scholarships, many of which are renewable, to incoming freshman and transfer students. Mann said that next year, if funding remains the same, 290 scholarships will be given to 240 freshmen and 50 transfer students.

Wendler said he would also like to see more money given to undergraduate scholarships next year, though it may not be possible.

“We just have to wait to see how things fall out, before we make any decisions,” he said.

This year’s tuition increase also funded $1 million in need-based grants, a first in the University’s history, bringing the total to $3.5 million for SIUC undergraduate students.

“The students bear the brunt of the costs,” Wendler said. “We wanted to be sure they would be first in line.”

The Law School also received $400,000 and $1.4 million was given to Illinois Board of Higher Education Initiatives.

Wendler said the first 3 percent of any tuition increase is given to IBHE to fund University initiatives. Though the administration can give suggestions, IBHE has the final say on how that money is spent.

The final $1 million was used to cover expenses in the $15 million budget hole left when Gov. George Ryan cut the University funds last year.

Wendler said he does not intend to ask for an additional increase to offset expenses, but if the budget is slashed greatly this year, he may have no other option.

“We had a four-year plan, and we’re going to stick to it,” Wendler said. “If the bottom falls out of this thing and they cut it by 20 to 30 percent, we may have to say to people, ‘Look you can come to school here, but you’ve got to pay more money. Otherwise, we can’t give you the classes.'”

Reporter Katie Davis can be reached at [email protected]

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