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Budget and tuition topped the SIU Board of Trustees executive committee agenda Wednesday at the Stone Center in Carbondale.

Faced with proposed state cuts that would slash SIU’s funding by 31.5 percent, President Randy Dunn presented board members with sample tuition-increase numbers to prepare board members for the hard work ahead.

Those examples ranged from 0 to 10 percent increases.

“We are signaling that we may want the board to think a little more aggressively about pricing,” Dunn said.

For the 2014-15 school year, full-time in-state students pay $8,415 per year in tuition. With a 10 percent increase, that number would jump by $840 to $9,255.

Judy Marshall, executive director of finance for the Carbondale campus said even that double-digit increase wouldn’t mean a windfall for the university. Revenue would increase by $2.3 million, she said. If Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposal is passed, SIU’s budget would take a $62 million hit.

Marshall said it would take a 4.7 percent increase in tuition next year to keep pace with this year’s tuition revenue.

Two years ago, administrators instituted a tuition waiver to stimulate enrollment. The program seems to have worked – freshman enrollment jumped to a record-setting 2,126 in 2014, a 2.4 percent jump.

But those steep discounts -- 50 percent off in some cases -- haven’t helped the university’s bottom line.

Judge J. Phil Gilbert, newly appointed to the board, said members are faced with an overwhelming task.

“It’s a lot to absorb, and it’s going to be a challenge,” he said. “Both Edwardsville and Carbondale have wonderful leaders and staff. They’ve given us a lot of information to absorb.”

Dunn also shed light on funding priorities.

The first departments and resources that will be considered for cuts include so-called “regional support efforts,” or programs not critical to the university’s mission. Dunn included in the proposal that group public radio station WSIU, Touch of Nature, the Small Business Development Center and continuing education programs, among other things.

Next to face cuts, according to information presented to the board, are programs that bridge the gap between those support efforts and core academic programs and services, such as the Research Park, University Farms, libraries and other research centers.

But program cuts only go so far. Administrators added that 91 percent of state funding pays for salaries.

“We are a large, important university system -- the second jewel in the crown,” Dunn said. “That means we take on a lot of work.”

SIU’s full Board of Trustees meets Thursday morning at the Student Center. The board will not make any decisions about tuition hikes or program cuts until its April 16 meeting, at the earliest.

This story was updated to clarify the amount students pay in tuition for the 2014-15 school year.




Sarah Graham is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering higher education and Union County.

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