New legislation was filed in the Illinois Senate on Jan. 27 that took many college trustees by surprise.
Senate Bill 135, sponsored by State Sen. Martin A. Sandoval (D-12th District), strips away the authority of the boards of trustees of state colleges and universities to set tuition and fees at their own schools and gives that power to the Illinois General Assembly.
In the bill the phrase “to fix the rate for tuition” is stricken from the section regarding the powers of trustees.
The new language states: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, for the 2011-2012 academic year and each academic year thereafter, the tuition and fee rates for undergraduate and graduate resident and non-resident students must be equal to the tuition and fee rates in effect for the 2010-2011 academic year or such lesser or greater amount as may be established by law by the General Assembly.”
Current law specifically outlines the duties of boards of trustees for each separate state university and collectively for community colleges. The new proposed language is consistent throughout.
However, SB135 does not address whether tuitions would be set at the same rate for each school or the General Assembly would set separate rates for each college.
Late in the day on Friday, trustees at two downstate community colleges were unaware of the legislation. One trustee said no news regarding the proposed legislation had come from the Illinois Community College Trustees Association, which frequently e-mails news updates to its members.
Both colleges had recently dealt with tuition increases, one having raised tuition earlier this week. The other had done so last year that took effect with the 2010-2011 school year.
SB135 has not yet been assigned to a committee.
If passed, the law will take effect immediately.