Apr 13, 2023 - News

Illinois college funding drops while tuitions rise

Illustration of a pair of scissors over blocks of color and dollar bills.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

If your eyes are popping at the cost of college in the state, you've got good reason.

What's happening: State funding for Illinois colleges has dropped by nearly 50% since 2000, after accounting for inflation.

  • Meanwhile, tuition has more than doubled to make up for the lack of state support, according to a new report by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

Why it matters: The price increases and funding drops have made affording college tough, especially for lower- and middle-income families.

  • Enrollment at Illinois public college and universities dropped 21% from 2010 to 2021, a rate four times greater than the overall national decline.

The intrigue: This disinvestment in public education helped drive the money shortages at universities including Chicago State, Governors State and Eastern Illinois that are now on strike.

Zoom in: In-state tuition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for 1999-2000 was $4,526. In 2023-24, it will be $17,572 to $22,836.

The big picture: Though college isn't the only path to economic stability, the report notes that the unemployment rate for Illinoisans without a four-year college degree is twice the rate of those with one.

  • It also notes the benefits of a college degree on wages, economic development, community health, well-being and social mobility.

What we're watching: Illinois' finances have improved recently following higher-than-anticipated tax revenues, enabling Gov. JB Pritzker's administration to recommend boosting funding of public higher education by $219 million, or 9.7%, for FY 2024.

  • A state commission is also working on ways to create more equitable funding of universities across income and racial lines.

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