Policymakers | Costs

Think tanks flunk Illinois colleges on affordability

THE HERALD-REVIEW   |  October 29, 2009 by Mike Riopell

Two think tanks Thursday urged the state to take a closer look at the rising cost of tuition at public universities in Illinois.

The Illinois Policy Institute and American Council of Trustees and Alumni released a scorecard that hit many state schools with failing grades on their affordability.

“What are students getting for their money? And what are taxpayers getting for their money?” said Collin Hitt, director of education policy at Illinois Policy Institute.

The report focuses on the increase in tuition between 2002 and 2007, when the average cost of going to a state school has risen more than 50 percent.

The fact that tuition has increased significantly is not news to Illinois officials, parents and students. Two weeks ago, hundreds of students flooded the Illinois Capitol asking the state’s largest scholarship program not be cut.

And lawmakers Thursday approved two measures asking for additional studies of the issue.

“This is a valuable addition to the dialogue on college costs,” Illinois Board of Higher Education spokesman Don Sevener said about Thursday’s report. “These things are not necessarily news to us.”

The report also rates universities on several other levels, including the way they’re governed. The groups gave low marks to Southern Illinois University, saying school trustees should be more accessible to the public and have no plan for professional development.

Illinois State University got relatively high marks in ratings of its general education program. ISU requires students to take classes in more subject areas than most other Illinois schools, according to the report.

Eastern Illinois University, by comparison, doesn’t require as many different classes, the report says.


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