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ISU Gets Less State Support Per Student Than Any Other Public Campus In Illinois

Flowers in the foreground with blue cloud studded skies above and an academic building in the middle ground.
Illinois State University
Schroeder Hall at Illinois State University

Illinois State University President Larry Dietz is asking state lawmakers for fair, dependable funding.

At a Senate higher education appropriations committee hearing Thursday, Dietz rattled off a long list of university accomplishments including steady enrollment, high graduation rates, excellent student retention rates, and campus-based efforts to support students with merit- and need-based financial aid.

Dietz said ISU has accomplished all that even though the university receives less state funding per full-time student than any other public university in Illinois.

"According to recent FY '18 reports released by the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois State University's current funding level of $3,551 per FTE student is 45 percent lower than the overall state average," said Dietz.

Dietz said deferred maintenance at ISU is approaching $500 million. He told lawmakers he has never approached them for a massive handout, just request for steady, predictable, and fair funding.

The House Higher Education Appropriations Committee will meet on the budget later this spring.

Lawmakers have been talking about performance-based funding for years, and the topic drew questions for Dietz again during the hearing Thursday.

Dietz said he thinks ISU would do fine with performance funding and philosophically, he said he thought it's a great place to go.

So far, he implied, however, it's not a polished policy.

"The research is mixed in other states about whether performance funding is really effective. I think the amount of money that's being provided now in performance funding is so small I don't think it has much impact. But, incentives? People respond to incentives," said Dietz.

Dietz said he would like ISU to be involved in defining criteria for performance funding.

Some, he said, are easy to use such as graduation rates and student retention. Others would potentially change from institution to institution, such as the diversity of the student body.

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