November 7, 2011

Rising tuition creates concerns among students

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By Christen Grumstrup/For CU-CitizenAccess — As tuition has been increasing here at the University of Illinois over the past few years, so have the students’ concerns with paying for it.

Because the price increases for higher education, students are doing many things to try and lessen that burden, whether it is working extra jobs, cutting back on expenses, or graduating early.

Lily Nicholson, a junior at the University, said that paying for college has been a struggle.

“I have been paying for my tuition/room and board through financial aid and working for the past two years,” she said.

Students entering the University for the 2006-2007 school year paid a base tuition rate of $8,440, while students that entered the University for the 2010-2011 school year paid a base tuition rate of $10,386. That is a 23 percent increase in tuition rates in four years. (See registrar’s website)

“The tuition increases are really unfortunate,” said Nicholson. “Just because of the increase, I am trying to graduate a semester early.”

On top of receiving grants and using student loans to pay for school, Nicholson also works as a student supervisor at the University of Illinois Foundation. The Foundation works to raise private funds for the University and its students.

Nicholson said that working and taking 18 credit hours is difficult.

“I often get home after 10 p.m. and I just get to start my homework then… it can be very exhausting,” she said.

Dr. Linda Moore, Vice President of Student Services at Parkland Community College said she advises students to consider earning an associate’s degree at a community college and then transfer to the University. She said this minimizes costs for the first two years of their education and reduces the amount students have to pay in student loans.

Moore said no school wants to increase tuition but universities and even community colleges have a little choice in the matter when there is inadequate support from the state.

Libby Cervantes is another University of Illinois student feeling the pressure of high tuition rates. She is currently paying for her college through loans and grants, and is constantly aware of the money she spends.

“I don’t use my debit card except for gas, and only write checks for rent, utilities, cheer and Delta Zeta,” said Cervantes. “I do not eat out unless I don’t have time to come back to my apartment in between classes. And I try to not spend any money on alcohol.”

Cervantes works about 15 hours a week [at what?] and is taking 17 credit hours, she is also on the university competitive cheer team and is involved in a sorority. She said managing everything “gets really difficult sometimes.”

Hannah Ehrenberg, the Student Representative from the Urbana-Champaign campus on the Board of Trustees, said she recognizes the importance of keeping tuition as low as possible. Ehrenberg sits in on the Trustee meetings and speaks as a voice for the students on campus.

In January 2011 the Trustees according to the January board meeting report,voted for an increase in tuition based on the following issues: “sustaining academic quality, addressing crucial operational needs, and meeting inflationary and other essential costs increases,”

While the board found reasons to increase tuition, Ehrenberg said, “we need to keep the University of Illinois accessible … and if the vote comes up again I would vote against a tuition increase.”