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Nearly $15,000: Illinois’ In-State Tuition Soars, Fueling Outmigration and Funding Concerns

(photo: WGLT)

Illinois struggles with the third highest in-state tuition nationally, reaching nearly $15,000 per year.

Illinois Grapples with Soaring In-State Tuition and Funding Concerns

In Illinois, in-state tuition has risen sharply by 49% over the last 15 years, making it the third most expensive state for college costs in the country. Currently, students at Illinois’ 12 public universities face an average annual tuition of nearly $15,000, more than $5,000 above the national average. This increase has prompted many students to either leave the state for more affordable education or take on heavier debt loads to stay in Illinois.

Dylan Sharkey of the Illinois Policy Institute attributes much of Illinois’ high tuition to the state’s university pension plans. He points out that for fiscal year 2024, 43 cents of every dollar allocated to higher education will go to pensions. This diversion suggests that students are paying more while receiving fewer direct educational benefits.

The latest state budget, starting July 1, allocates $2.6 billion to higher education, an increase of $76 million from the previous year. This includes additional funds for public universities and community colleges. Despite this funding boost concerns remain that a significant portion of taxpayer money doesn’t directly benefit classroom education contributing to dissatisfaction among students and taxpayers, according to the report of The Center Square.

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(photo: Colorado Springs Gazette)

Outmigration Threatens Illinois’ Economic and Demographic Stability

Governor J.B. Pritzker acknowledges the issue of students leaving Illinois for cheaper education options elsewhere. He recently approved a $10 million increase in funding for the Monetary Award Program, aimed at helping low-income students afford tuition. However, critics argue that such measures may not be enough to reverse the trend of outmigration, as students increasingly seek better financial prospects and lower tuition rates outside Illinois.

Illinois faces the highest in-state tuition costs among the nation’s ten most populous states, trailing only Vermont and New Hampshire. This high cost threatens not just the state’s economy but also its demographic stability, as young adults leave in search of more affordable education and better job opportunities. Lawmakers face mounting pressure to address these tuition hikes to ensure Illinois remains competitive in attracting and retaining its future workforce.

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