May 29, 2002
AFFORDABILITY, DIVERSITY TOP IBHE AGENDA
SPRINGFIELD - Affordability and campus diversity -
issues that have long occupied the higher education agenda
- headline next week's meeting of the Illinois Board of Higher
The Board will receive a report placing Illinois in the context
of recent national studies of college affordability, showing
essentially that Illinois higher education fares well compared
to some other states but also highlighting some worrisome
trends. The annual study of underrepresented groups in higher
education shows sustained growth in enrollments and degrees
for blacks and Hispanics, and - in general - positive attitudes
toward the campus climate for minorities. However, the report
also notes concern about the availability of financial aid
and minimal diversity of faculty and staff.
The Board will meet at 9 a.m., June 4, at the Illini Union
on the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois.
The affordability report examines conclusions drawn in Losing
Ground: A National Status Report on the Affordability of American
Higher Education, published recently by the National Center
for Public Policy and Higher Education, which also sponsored
the first-ever national report card two years ago. Illinois
was the top-ranked state on the report card and received an
A in affordability.
Losing Ground singled Illinois out for its strong
need-based financial aid program. A comparison with seven
other large states found that:
- Illinois was below average in tuition and fee growth at
community colleges, at the median for public universities,
and above average for private four-year institutions.
- Illinois was in the upper half of the states on growth
in median family income and state appropriations per student.
- Illinois was in the lower half of the states on growth
of state grant aid per student, although Illinois' commitment
to need-based financial assistance was significantly higher
that the majority of the states, as measured by the ratio
of state aid to federal Pell grants.
The report also documented trends that indicate "the
cost of attendance is becoming relatively more expensive for
Illinois residents." It found that between 1992 and 2002,
increases in tuition and fees outpaced growth in the Consumer
Price Index and in state per capita disposable income. Average
tuition and fees as a percentage of median income also increased
from 1990 and 2000. The proportion of Illinois undergraduates
who borrow to pay for college grew significantly at public
and private four-year institutions during the 1990s, as did
the average annual undergraduate loan amount in those two
The average Monetary Award Program grant as a percent of
tuition and fees has remained relatively constant at public
universities and community colleges, although not for students
at private institutions.
The report is a prelude to a more comprehensive examination
of the rising cost of a college degree to be undertaken in
The Underrepresented Groups Report noted continued progress
in broadening college opportunities for minorities. Among
- Total black enrollment increased by 2.6 percent from 1999-2000.
Between 1990 and 2000, black undergraduate enrollments grew
8 percent, and graduate enrollments rose about 55 percent.
- The number of Hispanic students increased 6.4 percent
from 1999 to 2000, while during the decade, Hispanic undergraduate
enrollments went up 67 percent, and graduate enrollments
jumped 98 percent.
- The 1999-2000 increase in graduate enrollments - 5 percent
for blacks, 9 percent for Hispanics - were the largest single
year percentage gains since 1994.
- Between 1990 and 2000, total degrees awarded to black
students increased by 39 percent, for Hispanics by 72 percent.
The report also examined the issue of campus climate. Among
the general conclusions in the report:
- The vast majority of minority students had positive attitudes
about the overall climate of their campuses.
- A large majority of underrepresented students believe
that faculty treat all students the same.
- Underrepresented students expressed concern about a lack
of diversity among faculty and other employees, and about
prospects for financial aid.
- Although perceptions of the racial climate on campus were
generally positive, many minority students noted that racial
problems do exist.
- A majority of underrepresented students said their own
attitudes toward people of different race or ethnicity had
improved during the college years, but a significant percentage
stated there had been no change of attitude.
Board members also will review a report that explores the
question of degree-program approval in the context of worker
shortages in various disciplines. The report examines the
issue in the context of demographic trends and the changing
workplace and concludes, among other things, that a worker
shortage is, by itself, insufficient cause for expanding program
offerings at colleges and universities because new program
requests always assert a shortage of qualified workers. It
also suggests that other considerations that will influence
decisions for new programs include the changing nature of
student populations; a learning environment in which not all
students intend to pursue a degree; the fact that quality
of education at all levels affects the state and national
economies; and the effects of the job market in broadening
the education marketplace, with a growth in proprietary institutions
catering to preparing students for jobs in growth industries.
The report concludes that there is no easy or quick solution
to worker shortages and cautions colleges and universities
against radically altering their educational missions.
The Board meeting at the University of Illinois will be the
first for newly appointed Chairman Steven H. Lesnik, who succeeds
Philip J. Rock, and for Executive Director Daniel J. LaVista,
who has replaced Keith R. Sanders. Lesnik will join the Joint
Education Committee - comprised of officials from state education
and workforce agencies and the Governor's office - as a representative
of the Board of Higher Education.