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ISU trustees set fees for new students, keeping cost increases below inflation rate

Students cross the College Avenue bridge at Illinois State University in Normal
Emily Bollinger
Students cross the College Avenue bridge at Illinois State University.

The total cost to attend Illinois State University in the fall for most incoming students will be $27,561.

The average first-year undergraduate student will pay about $500 more to attend ISU in the fall than last year. The Board of Trustees has approved a 3.6% increase in fees, and room and board rose 3.5%. The ISU board held a special meeting Friday after putting off a vote last week to get more information.

“We were looking at housing and dining, how costs have gone up, the wage increases, and they just wanted to be sure what exactly this new money that would be coming in would be used for,” said board chair Kathryn Bohn.

A couple trustees expressed concern about the price tag, but Scott Jenkins was the only one to vote no.

"I just think we continue to nickel and dime students on the fee side that they see as tuition. And so, I'll continue to probably vote no on the tuition side increases," said Jenkins.

Trustee Julie Jones said the vote was a "tough call, in addition to the increase in tuition."

“I wrestled with yet another increase,” said Jones. “I ask that we do as much belt-tightening as we can do.”

Tuition will not rise next year, except for a few programs ISU says cost more to deliver such as business, nursing, cybersecurity, and engineering. Trustees approved so-called differential tuition rates in January. Jenkins voted against those as well.

A man in a suit looks down during a meeting
Emily Bollinger
ISU trustee Scott Jenkins at a recent meeting.

For students paying differential rates, the total cost to attend ISU will be $29,373.

"We all think about affordability. But we also realize that wages have increased. Minimum wage has gone up. The cost of food has gone up. We have a lot of deferred maintenance at our university," said Bohn. “Some of the fees will go to that to make sure buildings are safe.”

The ISU price tag has risen less than the rate of inflation since 2019 [before the pandemic] by about several thousand dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.

"We always look at this very closely. And it is possible that future increases will be challenged," said Bohn.

The total increase in ISU costs for most entering students will be about 1.9% over last year. The increase using the differential tuition rate will be 8.6%.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.