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Analysis | SIUC Cost of Attendance
Did you know? SIUC outspends local competitors on financial aid

CARBONDALE — Since she was hired last May to help turn around declining enrollment at SIU Carbondale, Jennifer DeHaemers has heard the same complaint over and over again, in Southern Illinois.

“I keep hearing that we’re so expensive that students choose SEMO (Southeast Missouri State University) or Murray State [University] because of the cost,” said DeHaemers, SIUC’s associate chancellor for enrollment management.

At first glance, administrators acknowledge, that belief appears true. SIUC does charge more in tuition and fees — $14,599 for the 2018-2019 academic year — than regional competitors like SEMO ($13,155) and Eastern Illinois University ($11,510), though it’s cheaper than Murray State ($16,176), for Illinois residents.

But as SIU Carbondale bolsters its recruiting efforts, the university is encouraging students to look beyond the sticker price and focus on financial aid.

Some 87 percent of this year’s incoming students received it at SIUC, as do the great majority of students at many local public institutions.

But data shows SIUC is especially generous.

Last fiscal year, SIUC’s scholarships, grants and tuition waivers covered 31 percent of all tuition to be charged, saving undergraduate and grad students some $42.5 million, according to Judy Marshall, the university’s Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance.

That’s more total institutional financial aid dollars than SIUE, SEMO or Murray State, per 2017-2018 numbers.

SIUC also appears to provide more support for its neediest students than its regional competitors. Data from the 2017-2018 school year shows SIUC undergrads with proven financial need had an average of 61 percent of that need met, via financial aid packages averaging over $15,000.

SEMO covered 59 percent of its undergraduate students’ proven need, with average packages of almost $9,600.

EIU covered 57 percent of undergraduate demonstrated financial need, with packages averaging about $13,000, and Murray State covered 34.4 percent of undergraduate needs, with packages averaging almost $12,300.

“We put a lot of money in to making SIUC more affordable for students, and I don’t know that that story is really out there,” DeHaemers told the Southern in late December.

And next year’s SIUC students could be looking at an even sweeter deal.

The university is graduating a senior class that dwarfs its current freshman class. And with no financial aid cutbacks planned, according to DeHaemers, money could be spread thicker among fewer students.

If budgetary promises hold at the state level, the university’s scholarship funding should actually grow over the next five years. The state has promised SIUC some $3.8 million, through the AIM HIGH Grant program, a state initiative that encourages Illinois public schools to develop new scholarships to attract more in-state students.

Eventually, DeHaemers plans to reassess and maybe slightly reduce the amount of money SIUC awards via tuition waivers, one of the university’s many forms of financial aid.

“It’s money that can’t be spent on hirings, on facilities and technology, and other things that benefit students,” DeHaemers said.

Across Illinois, 67 percent of all tuition waivers granted to students on the basis of financial need were issued by SIUC In Fiscal Year 2017, Marshall told the SIU Board of Trustees, in December.

"This campus is committed to affordability and accessibility," she continued. "We know that we cannot continue to raise tuition and fees, we must grow enrollment."

SIUC will not seek to increase tuition or fees next year, Marshall assured the Board.

To take full advantage of the financial aid available to attend college at a two- or four-year institution, students must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a federal government form more commonly known as the FAFSA. The document is available online and must be completed each year.

Pages of 1800s-era family Bible, missing for decades, travel over 300 miles back home to Southern Illinois

HERRIN — A family Bible recording births, marriages and deaths dating back to the 1800s slipped away years ago, likely buried inside a trunk that was sold in an estate sale around the time Jean Barwick’s grandfather died in 1953.

“It probably got away from the family 50 years ago or more,” said Barwick, of Herrin.

This December, pages of that Bible were returned to the family. But how they made their way back home is an astonishing story. For years, the Bible has been tucked away in the basement of a family that Barwick doesn’t know in Dixon, more than 320 miles away.

That’s where Susan Whitemountain comes in. She runs a shop in Anna called The Gathering Place, a genealogy and family resource center. In October, Whitemountain traveled to Dixon in northern Illinois to attend the 70th wedding anniversary party of a second cousin.

While there, a relative of theirs told Whitemountain he had something for her that he thought she would find of interest. “He brought me this folder with all of these pages in it from a family Bible." 

Entries dated back to the 1800s. One was for the marriage of Andrew Jackson Bizzel and Martha Brasenell in Union County in 1874; entries followed listing the births of the Bizzel family's children.

On, a website where people pay a membership to research their family roots, Whitemountain located someone who had created a family tree that included the Bizzel family of Anna. She wrote to Barwick inquiring how she was related to the Bizzels. 

Whitemountain said she was careful not to mention the Bible pages because she did not want to get Barwick’s hopes up if it was the wrong family. “She wrote me back and said her grandfather was Jesse Bizzel, the youngest child of the family in the Bible. At that point, I knew she must be related. When I got ahold of her and we talked on the phone, we discovered her mother’s birth (in 1917) was listed in the Bible as well.”

“Then I knew for sure it was their family Bible.”

Whitemountain said that, unfortunately, the rest of the Bible was not salvaged; likely, it was not in good condition, she said. Barwick said that while it would have been neat to have the entire Bible intact, she is pleased to get the pages filled with important information about her ancestors.

“It kind of gives you a sense of who they were,” she said.

Bibles were the primary way that families of that era recorded important events. The photographs did not have names, so Barwick has been doing research of her own to try to figure it out. She believes that the Bible originally belonged to her great-great-grandmother, who married Isaac Bizzel, the son of Barwick’s great-great-great-grandfather of the same name. The senior Isaac Bizzel was an immigrant from England who traveled to Union County to farm by way of North Carolina and Tennessee, she said.

The last entry came in 1926, recording the birth of her mom’s younger brother.

“My mom has always told me that there was a family Bible and we never were able to find it,” Barwick said. Her mother, who died over a decade ago, often talked about it. “She wanted me to find granny’s Bible.”

The two met at Whitemountain's business in Anna, and Whitemountain gave the pages to Barwick.

“It’s kind of a miraculous thing,” Whitemountain said of how her second cousin’s son-in-law came across the Bible in a sack that was destined for the trash during a basement cleaning and decided to save the pages for Whitemountain, who was then able to connect with a descendant of its owner online on the first try. In late December, just before Christmas, Whitemountain gave Barwick the pages at her shop in Anna. 

“And to know her mother had been looking for the Bible and not been able to find it ... that’s why I called it divine intervention,” Whitemountain said.

Pritzker seeks higher salaries to attract top Cabinet talent

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers on Monday backed initiatives pushed by Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker, including giving approval to a change in state law to increase salaries by 15 percent for Cabinet members he hopes to hire.

The Democrat doesn't take office for another week. But a Democratic-controlled House panel still passed the plan that would boost salaries. The transportation secretary and prison system directors, for example, would be paid $172,500 a year instead of the current $150,000. Pritzker said current salaries are not competitive .

The Executive Committee also voted unanimously to allow Pritzker to replace all current members of the Illinois Tollway board, citing questionable spending and contracting.

The Cabinet-level salary bump is necessary to entice competent leadership to a state still smarting from billions of dollars of debt and other struggles in recent years, said Rep. Christian Mitchell, the Chicago Democrat sponsoring the measure .

"We cannot fix Illinois, fix the things wrong with the state, if we don't have the top talent to do so," said Mitchell, who leaves the Legislature on Wednesday to join Pritzker's administration as a deputy governor.

Pritzker will be inaugurated Jan. 14. The governor's salary is $177,400.

Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh released data showing Illinois trailing behind other states in Cabinet compensation. California and Texas pay their Corrections Department chiefs about $265,000.The Texas transportation director makes $300,000.

While the director of the Illinois State Police earns $140,000, Connecticut pays its top cop $183,000. New York is phasing in $190,000 salaries for each of five top Cabinet spots.

Rep. Tim Butler, a Republican from Springfield, said nonunionized mid-level managers have had salaries frozen in many cases for 15 years or more.

"These are mid-level managers who do the bulk of the work," Butler said.

Responding to Butler, Mitchell said the salaries would cost an additional $700,000 and would be covered in the current fiscal year by about $1.6 million set aside for contingencies. Earlier, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs said Pritzker's "request is not out of line" and that the GOP would go along with it as a good-faith gesture of cooperation with the new administration.

House cleaning at the Tollway board , which oversees 294 miles of pay-to-use interstate highways in northeastern Illinois, is prompted by reports in the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald that found the board hired Durkin's sister-in-law as engineering manager despite her background in furniture sales, a $6.6 million public-relations contract was given to the firm of the wife of another Republican lawmaker, and an engineering firm was selected for a $157 million contract that employs the children of Tollway executives.

A Tollway spokeswoman said she had no comment.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat sponsoring the proposal, said it also requires the board to adopt bylaws covering conflicts of interest.

"This is an opportunity to clean up an area of government where we have not been as transparent, as accountable, as the citizens would like us to be," Currie said.

Trump heads to TV, border as fed workers face paycheck sting

WASHINGTON — With no breakthrough in sight, President Donald Trump will argue his case to the nation tonight that a "crisis" at the U.S.-Mexico border requires the long and invulnerable wall he's demanding before ending the partial government shutdown. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers face missed paychecks Friday as the shutdown drags through a third week.

Trump's Oval Office speech — his first as president — will be followed by his visit Thursday to the southern border to highlight his demand for a barrier. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that he will use the visit to "meet with those on the front lines of the national security and humanitarian crisis."

The administration is also at least talking about the idea of declaring a national emergency to allow Trump to move forward on the wall without Congress approving the $5.6 billion he wants. Vice President Mike Pence said the White House counsel's office is looking at the idea. Such a move would certainly draw legal challenges, and Trump — who told lawmakers he would be willing to keep the government closed for months or even years — has said he would like to continue negotiations for now.

Trump's prime-time address will be carried live by ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox Broadcasting, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC and NBC.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer called on the networks to give Democrats a chance to respond. "Now that the television networks have decided to air the President's address, which if his past statements are any indication will be full of malice and misinformation, Democrats must immediately be given equal airtime," they wrote in a joint statement released Monday night.

As Trump's speech and border visit were announced, newly empowered House Democrats — and at least a few Republican senators — stepped up pressure on GOP lawmakers to reopen the government without giving in to the president's demands. The closure, which has lasted 17 days, already is the second-longest in history and would become the longest this weekend.

Leaning on Senate Republicans, some of whom are growing anxious about the impact of the shutdown, Pelosi said the House would begin passing individual bills this week that would reopen federal agencies, starting with the Treasury Department to ensure Americans receive their tax refunds.

The White House tried to pre-empt the Democrats, telling reporters Monday that tax refunds would be paid despite the shutdown. That shutdown exemption would break from the practice of earlier administrations and could be challenged.

"There is an indefinite appropriation to pay tax refunds. As a result ... the refunds will go out as normal," said Russell Vought, acting director of the White House budget office.

The shutdown furloughed 380,000 federal workers and forced another 420,000 to work without pay. The National Park Service said it was dipping into entrance fees to pay for staffing at some highly visited parks to maintain restrooms, clean up trash and patrol the grounds, after reports of human waste and garbage overflowing in some spots.

Over the weekend, the federal agency tasked with guaranteeing U.S. airport security acknowledged an increase in the number of its employees missing work or calling in sick.

But Trump and the Transportation Security Administration pushed back on any suggestion that the call-outs at the agency represented a "sickout" that was having a significant effect on U.S. air travel. TSA said it screened more than 2.2 million passengers Sunday, a historically busy day due to holiday travel. Ninety percent waited less than 15 minutes, the agency said.

"We are grateful to the more than 51,000 agents across the country who remain focused on the mission and are respectful to the traveling public," said TSA spokesman Michael Bilello.

The talks over ending the shutdown have been at an impasse over Trump's demand for the wall. He has offered to build the barrier with steel rather than concrete, billing that as a concession to Democrats' objections. They "don't like concrete, so we'll give them steel," he said.

But Democrats have made clear that they object to the wall itself, not how it's constructed. They see it as immoral and ineffective and prefer other types of border security funded at already agreed-upon levels.

"Maybe he thinks he can bully us. But I'm from Brooklyn. You let a bully succeed, you'll be bullied again worse," Schumer said at a breakfast with the Association for a Better New York.

At the White House, spokeswoman Mercedes Schlapp complained that Democratic leaders have yet to define what they mean when they say they are for enhancing border security.

"Democrats want to secure the border? Great. Come to the table," she said Monday. "We are willing to come to a deal to reopen the government."

Trump tasked Pence during the shutdown fight to negotiate with Democrats, including during talks over the weekend with Democratic staffers. But the vice president is increasingly being called upon to prevent defections in the GOP ranks.

Asked whether cracks were forming between the White House and Republicans eager for the shutdown to end, Pence told reporters, "We've been in touch with those members and others."