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Illinois Higher Ed Money Diverted to University Pension Fund


While Illinois increases its higher education spending by 12 percent, a new study by the Illinois State University finds that a large proportion of the money will not be used to benefit students — and can, instead, top up the pension program.

The additional funding for the 2012 fiscal year is going into the State Universities Retirement System?(SURS), that is responsible for the pensions from the state’s university employees, so that they can address its vastly under-funded pension program, writes Andrew Thomason in the Alton Telegraph.

“These SURS appropriations do not go to individual institutions or agencies and aren\’t available to be utilized for educational purposes,” says the study.

SURS is currently carrying a $17.2 billion liability after decades of \”under-funding\” by legislators and reduced returns in investment.

However, although this increase in funding by the University will look to make up for your, students are also being inspired to pick up the balance for a lot of the rising cost of classrooms.

Students this year paid 30 % more for a year of school than students at the university 4 years prior. In 2007, the cost was $13,496; this past year it was $18,189.

But while it\’s regrettable that students seem to be shouldering even more costs, that\’s not the SURS\’ fault, says officials.

Beth Spencer, a spokeswoman for SURS, said:

“The state has systematically over decades didn\’t fully pay the annual required contribution.”

IBHE Deputy Director Alan Philips said that an increasing tuition and student fees have grown to be an \”ugly reality\” for universities, who must exist on less federal funding.

“Using the cost of education increasing, with the requirement for everyone more students increasing, with the state funding decreasing, there’s very few places that you are making up the difference,” he explained.

This comes after University of Illinois announced that they would raise tuition costs?for incoming freshmen the coming year, leaving new students at a price tag nearly 12 % higher than in \’09, writes the Huffington Post.

With this hike included, the annual price of attendance in the Urbana-Champaign campus will come to over $24,000.

University President Michael Hogan blamed the hike around the “problematic” future of state funding, emphasizing that the bigger cost represents a policy “which addresses the significance of accessibility” while ensuring the school can cover its costs, the Associated Press reports.

The new tuition hike was decided on unanimously by officials, with the only dissent originating from student trustee Kenneth Thomas — the only student around the board.

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