(EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.) With the news that Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard will recommend to the SIU Board of Trustees an undergraduate tuition freeze for the 2010-11 academic year, SIUE Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift said SIUE will continue to weather the state's ongoing budget woes through conservative budget planning and continued growth in enrollment. The tuition freeze, if approved by the Board of Trustees, will be the second year in a row in which SIU has limited its tuition increase request. Last year, the University enacted its lowest tuition increase in seven years. SIU also is seeking legislative authority for borrowing, if needed, to get through the current shortfall experienced by the state.
"SIUE already has the lowest tuition and fee total among all 12 Illinois public colleges and universities, and a zero percent increase will only enhance the position of SIUE as a great educational value," Vandegrift said. You can find an estimated overall cost for undergraduate freshmen on the 2010-2011 costs Web page.
Vandegrift said the state's revenue shortfalls since July 1 have been a challenge but one that has been met head on as shown by the steadfast cooperation from the SIUE University Planning and Budget Council (UPBC) and the sense of community and pride on campus. The UPBC is comprised of representatives from four constituency groups on campus: faculty, staff, students and administration. "With invaluable help from the UPBC, we have been able to successfully slow down our hiring, purchases, and renovation projects as well as doubling the normal contingency reserve from 2% to 4% in our budget funds," Vandegrift said.
"As a result of the slowdown, we have projected fiscal year-end savings in hiring ($1.5 million), purchasing ($2 million) and more through other budget actions. These savings, when added to funds from expected enrollment increases, should enable us to meet our 4% contingency goal of $5.6 million. Having made progress on the revenue slowdown problem, it now seems appropriate to take judicious actions to prepare for the more than 14,000 students we expect this fall. Enrollment at SIUE has been increasing by an average of 2 percent each year since 2007 and applications have continued to rise during that same time frame, with current applications running ahead of this time last year. "We have allowed faculty searches to continue uninterrupted since they normally require a significant portion of the academic year to complete," Vandegrift said. "While our terrific staff have always performed admirably for SIUE, we certainly acknowledge that many have been stretched during the hiring freeze due to the temporary reduction in the workforce.
"We will move ahead, cautiously and carefully, to both meet our payroll and prepare for the 2010-11 school year. As I've said in the past, conservative budgeting by the UPBC, our enrollment increases, and our sense of community continue to be important factors as we work through difficult times. I continue to marvel at the good work done by our staff and faculty as they help our students become some of the most important contributors to society," he said. "Our students are making a difference and the people of Illinois have come to know that."
In announcing the recommendation he will make to the Board at its April 8 meeting, Poshard said state assisted universities in Illinois have reached a crossroads. "One path leads to the continued privatization of public higher education, the other to a solution to the state's drastic decline in state revenues that would allow this public university to honor its tradition of offering high quality degrees at affordable prices," Poshard commented. "This recommendation reflects my assessment that the constant cycle of state budget cuts to public higher education, followed by double digit tuition increases, must be broken if a college degree at Southern Illinois University is to remain affordable," Poshard continued. "The decision to freeze tuition is not an easy one, but it is a necessary one which will require additional sacrifices from our dedicated faculty and staff, who to their immense credit, continue to uphold the high quality of our academic programs."