Illinois universities will fight legislation that would eliminate tuition waivers

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CHAMPAIGN-URBANA--Amidst massive cuts to higher education, one lawmaker has a plan that could save public universities $10,000,000 a year. But schools across Illinois are against the proposal.

For the children of employees at the University of Illinois, the cost of a college education is 50 percent off.

One lawmaker is trying to do away with that discount.

"I feel like students should pay the same amount," said Hira Tanweer, a UI junior studying advertising.

State Representative Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) introduced legislation, House Bill 403, that would eliminate the tuition waiver given to students whose parents work at the public universities they attend. Franks estimates his proposal could save schools in Illinois around $10,000,000 annually, amidst the more than $300,000,000 in cuts higher education is facing from the state.

"This is a perk that we can simply no longer afford," said Franks.

The Woodstock Democrat says he has support from most of his fellow members in the House State Government Administration Committee, as well some other lawmakers.

Meanwhile, state universities are supporting each other in their opposition to the bill, asking legislators to vote against its passage, or withdraw it from consideration.

"The University of Illinois and all the other public universities are a highly competitive market for a workforce," said Thomas Hardy, executive director of UI University Relations. "And a tuition waiver like this is utilized by all employees who have the opportunity and it comes as part of a compensation package."

A compensation package that will be less likely to attract top notch faculty without that waiver, according to UI officials. They also say the children would be more likely to go elsewhere for college.             

"I think there should be some sort of incentive to those kids staying in-house, where their parents are working," said Matt Doherty, a UI graduate student studying civil engineering.

Franks intends to call the bill to committee this week and hopes to have it on the house floor by next week for a vote.
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