EDWARDSVILLE — Tuition for incoming students on Southern Illinois University's Carbondale campus will increase 3 percent next year.
Members of SIU's board of trustees unanimously voted through the tuition hike at their regular March board meeting Thursday morning in Edwardsville.
The $264 increase will bring the price of tuition to $9,099 per year. Tuition will not increase for existing students.
The cost of 15 mandatory student fees will remain the same, while room-and-board fees will increase 1.9 percent to $10,186, bringing the total in-state cost of an SIU education to $22,417.
Brad Colwell, SIU’s interim chancellor, said years of declining enrollment made it unwise to increase tuition any more steeply -- despite an ever-worsening budget outlook and steep layoffs and cuts on the horizon.
“We had to build enough pad (to) basically pay the bills and take care of strategic initiatives, but yet we have to pay careful attention to enrollment,” he said. “We’re not quite as fortunate as our good friends in Edwardsville.”
Enrollment at SIU Edwardsville has increased steadily over the past several years. Trustees voted 6-1 Thursday morning to approve a 9 percent tuition hike for that campus, with Joel Sambursky voting no and Roger Herrin absent.
On the Carbondale campus, graduate tuition will increase 5 percent next year, from $10,022.40 to $10,524. With no increase in fees, that brings the total graduate cost to $13,333.04.
Colwell said the decision not to increase fees came in response to public concerns.
“I get more feedback about fees, in the negativity, because not everyone uses each of the fees, and so they want to back out,” he said. “You can’t do that, obviously, so we have to look at that overall dollar amount, and when they get a fee bill that is almost as much as tuition, that does not always sit well.”
Freshmen will still have the ability to opt out of the refundable insurance fee, which will increase 6.84 percent next year, from $1,170 to $1,250.
Cuts on the Horizon
Administrators anticipate the tuition hike will bring in an additional $1.5 million in revenue next year -- a figure that pales in comparison to the $22 million in revenue the university will lose should Gov. Bruce Rauner’s FY17 budget proposal pass muster with legislators.
Rauner is recommending a 20 percent cut to public colleges and universities next year. If it’s passed, administrators will be forced to lay off 180 faculty and staff members and reduce of eliminate support for a bevy of programs and services -- a move SIU system President Randy Dunn said could take place as early as May or early June, depending on budget talks in Springfield.
“While we haven’t started flipping all of the switches for each one of those listed cuts, … everything’s kind of put in place to move with those,” he said.
In a more dire, “perfect storm” scenario, in which no spending bill is approved for the current fiscal year and no budget is in place for FY17 by mid- to late-June, Dunn said the board may have to consider declaring a fiscal emergency in order to make more significant changes.
That move would allow the board of trustees to take action on a series of cuts that would leave SIU looking a bit different next year, including eliminating state support to the School of Law and the office of the Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Relations.
“You’re talking about a major reorganization of the campuses themselves, and that, only a board can do that,” Dunn said.
At the meeting, board members also:
• Approved a five-year, $7.5 million natural gas supply and delivery contract to Interstate Municipal Gas Agency, one of two companies to submit bids
• Approved the employment of Nick Hill as SIU’s head football coach. Hill will take home a $175,000 salary. His contract is back-dated to Dec. 23.
• Approved the demolition of 10 unused buildings on the Carbondale campus, at a cost of about $600,000. The demolition will be contracted out only when board members are more comfortable with the university’s cash flow situation.
• Approved further renovations to Woody Hall
The board’s next meeting will take place on May 5 in Carbondale.