SIU Trustees Approve Flat Tuition, Praise Administration for Pandemic Leadership

Apr 29, 2021

SIU's campuses in Carbondale and Edwardsville will hold tuition and mandatory fees flat next year - as administrators say higher education shouldn't be out of reach because of cost.

SIUC Chancellor Austin Lane says students and their families need a quality education, but they have to be able to afford it, too.

"This is the third year in a row for not increasing undergraduate tuition. Our mandatory fees have remained at the same level since Fiscal Year '16. Just so everyone knows, we're doing everything we can to maintain our focus on affordability and accessibility."

In addition, the university's board of trustees formalized the hire of the system's first Vice President for Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Sheila Caldwell is expected to start that position this summer.

Weathering COVID

SIU leaders say the federal CARES Act helped the university cover most of the financial impact of COVID-19, though not all of it.

Trustees heard from administrators about how they've weathered a year in a pandemic. Lane says it's been difficult at times, but the federal money helped a lot.

"Really made the difference between whether students actually remained in school or went home, so we're very, very proud of that. So, just being conservative on our spending and making sure we don't get ourselves into some trouble is really what we've been doing."

Edwardsville Chancellor Randy Pembrook agrees - he says the CARES Act funding covered many of the gaps his campus had, and he's looking to a positive future.

"I think there's a great chance for '21 to '22 to be an incredible success story for the system. And that will relate to all parts: tuition, revenue, housing, and dining, etc."

As the campuses look forward to graduation in just a few weeks, trustees say they're proud of the way the university has made it through COVID-19 so far.

Trustee Ed Hightower says it's been very challenging, but he's thankful for administrators, faculty, staff, and students who did their part to keep things moving.

"When everything was just so uncertain, the three of you have led this institution - along with your team - in just an incredible way."

Board Chair Phil Gilbert agrees. He says although there is still work to do, and financial challenges to overcome, SIU has done well in a very difficult situation.

"And I think we're going to be heading for bigger and brighter days ahead. There's great reports from Dr. Lane and Dr. Pembrook, also Dr. Kruse - I think this board can be very proud."

Chancellors on both campuses say they've been able to cover most of their COVID expenses with federal CARES Act funding, but admit there will be some costs that aren't covered. Still, they say conservative spending and careful planning should allow them to operate without dramatic cuts or changes.