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Why Illinois’ second largest university needs a lot of freshman

By   /   September 5, 2013  /   News  /   4 Comments

By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watchdog

SPRINGFIELD — It’s a good thing Illinois’ second largest public university enrolled its largest freshman class in two decades.

$101,000 A YEAR: Students are being tapped to pay for six figure professor salaries.

$101,000 A YEAR: Students are being tapped to pay for six figure professor salaries.

Someone is going to have to pay for those $101,000-a-year average salaries for professors at Southern Illinois University.

SIU’s main campus in Carbondale has had to turn to tuition dollars to pay more of the school’s bills, as state dollars have faded away during the past decade.

“Of course there is a correlation between the number of students you have and your budget,” SIU’s chief of marketing and communications Rae Goldsmith told Illinois Watchdog. “But that’s not the sole reason you go out and recruit students.”

Tution now covers 24 percent of SIU’s nearly $600 million budget. A decade ago, tuition paid just 17 percent of SIU’s bills and way back in 1968 students only covered 4 percent of the costs.

But students have been asked to pay for more as the state taxpayers have paid for less.

State lawmakers sent SIU $153 million last yea. SIU got $152 million back in 1995.

In 1995, students paid $3,337 each for in-state tuition and fees. Last year, students paid $11,527 for the same tuition and fees.

“Affordability is important,” Goldsmith said. “SIU is looking at alternative revenue sources and looking at fundraising. The goal is to minimize future tuition increases.”

Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard has said he fears that the rising cost of a college education will leave many working families without a chance to go to school.


Goldsmith said that in addition to affordability, SIU is looking at retention.

“It’s important that we not only bring in students, but we keep them,” Goldsmith said.

FEWER STUDENTS, HIGHER COSTS: SIU students are paying twice what students paid 10 years ago.

FEWER STUDENTS, HIGHER COSTS: SIU students are paying twice what students paid 10 years ago.

SIU says it is proud the class of 2017 is one of the best prepared group of students SIU has seen in years.

“(The freshman class) average ACT score is a full point higher than a year ago. The average high school grade point average of the freshman class has increased each year since 2010,” SIU said in a statement crowing about the new class of students.

SIU will need to count on those good grades going into the future. Nearly 40 percent of students will drop out between their first and second years. Only 24 percent of SIU students will graduate in four years. If you give students six years, which SIU insists is the proper measuring stick, just 47 percent of freshman will graduate.

Which brings SIU back to its original problem of dealing with a shrinking amount of money.

“The main sources for (public) universities are state funding and tuition dollars,” Goldsmith said.

All of Illinois’ public universities have raised tuition over the past two decades, as Illinois’ public-pension costs have skyrocketed and put the squeeze on the state’s budget.

Contact Benjamin Yount at B[email protected] and find him on Twitter @BenYount.


Ben formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Brooke Renee Reeves

    It’s so bad that it was cheaper for me to move out of state for college than live at home, about 10-15 minutes away from SIU, and go there.

  • ddd

    maybe they need to cut back in a number of areas, the number of majors or programs…cut back staff, way back. perhaps we should start forcing those who drop out to re-pay the tax payer for the subsidies they provided. I’m doubtful SIU has a revenue problem…I’m more inclined to think they have an expense problem. One more thing, lets not talk about the old days when tuition was 4%…perhaps that was inadequate and that those students should have contributed more.

  • Andy Saporoschenko

    How much should should profesors be paid? Especially when they are doing research that will expand our knowlege base, which is the by-far main driver of jobs. Where do you think the transitor was developed? Leading to almost all technolgy we have now. Where were the foundation of bioteach developed? Where did the Green Revolution, which dramatically lowered the rate of starvation around the work come from. Universities.
    Why don’t professors who study with almost no pay for six, quite often six plus, extra years get paid nearly the same as senior teachers in suburban high schools, many of whom barely have graduated with the undergraduate degree?

  • Nancy Boozell Burklow

    Many students are leaving the state of Illinois to attend four year universities. The annual tuition and fee increases will only exacerbate this issue. College freshman can enter boarding out of state public universities at sometimes half the tuition rate being charged in Illinois. For students who are not eligible for grant monies, families are turning to out of state schools because they are a better deal financially.