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Concerned about state cuts, NIU board raises tuition

Published: Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 11:42 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 11:43 p.m. CDT

DeKALB – New Northern Illinois University students in the 2014-15 academic year will pay higher tuition rates but also will see slightly lower housing costs.

During a special meeting Thursday, the NIU Board of Trustees, by a 6-2 vote, approved a 2 percent increase in tuition and fees for new students while reducing housing rates by 2.7 percent. Trustee Wheeler Coleman and Student Trustee Elliot Echols voted against the package.

For a full-time undergraduate student with 15 credit hours, tuition will increase by $6.05 a credit hour, or $90.75 a semester. The fixed rate of tuition will remain in effect for nine semesters, in accordance with Illinois’ Truth-In-Tuition law and NIU policy.

“Northern Illinois University is committed to affordability and access, and it is our desire to continue to manage our finances in a public and transparent manner,” NIU President Doug Baker said in a prepared statement. “This package is the result of a careful assessment of costs and benefits in relation to the alignment with NIU’s mission, strategic goals and obligations related to the university’s service of our region.”

Trustee Cherilyn Murer voted in favor of the tuition and housing package because she felt it was prudent to follow the recommendation from the administration.

“What we need to be committed to is value,” Murer said. “We need to look at the value of what we provide for the cost.”

NIU’s interim Chief Financial Officer Nancy Suttenfield said the increase is a necessary hedge against potential state budget cuts, referencing the state’s temporary tax increase.

The decision on tuition, fees and housing rates came earlier than the typical late-spring announcement. In June, trustees voted to increase tuition 2 percent for new in-state students and existing graduate for the fall 2013.

The accelerated timeline is because of the state appropriation making up a smaller portion of the university’s operating revenue and to allow students more time to review their finances.

Tuition for current students remains flat based on the state’s Truth-in-Tuition law, which allows students to attend public universities for four years without a tuition increase.

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