DeKALB – The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees is expected to raise tuition on freshmen and graduate-level students at its meeting today.
State law prevents public universities such as NIU from raising the tuition rates of in-state undergraduate students already enrolled there. An in-state student who entered NIU in fall 2011 will pay the same tuition rate for nine semesters.
However, the state’s Truth-in-Tuition policy does not apply to everyone. Graduate and law students will feel the tuition increase, as will undergraduates from out of state.
“We waited as long as we could to make the decision, to impact the incoming students as little as possible,” NIU spokesman Paul Palian said.
NIU charges tuition based on the number of credit hours a student takes, up to 16 credit hours. Currently, in-state students who are taking 15 credit hours pay $296.46 a credit hour, while out-of-state students pay $592.92.
Graduate students currently pay $335.62 a credit hour, while law students will pay $638.23 a credit hour.
Palian said tuition increases are determined by a number of factors, including the Truth-in-Tuition policy, state funding and operating costs such as the price of fuel.
“What it causes you to do is make a prediction based on an unknown,” Palian said about the locked-in tuition rates. “We don’t know what’s going to be out there ... five years down the road.”
Truth-in-Tuition has been in effect since fall 2004, and public universities have generally adapted to it, said Steve Cunningham, acting executive vice president of finance and facilities.
“It means the universities need to look ahead a little bit and predict the economic circumstances,” Cunningham said. “The universities have all adapted to this. It does give students and their families a great deal of clarity on what their tuition rate is going to be during their course of studies.”