Setting the Record Straight about University Finances
The Administration told the GEO they don’t have enough money to provide graduate employees with a living wage or affordable healthcare, or accept GEO’s childcare and fee waiver proposals. But the truth is, the University has more money than ever before! Let’s set the record straight:
The Administration loves to claim that a decrease in state funding has led to financial woes. The reality, however, is that while state funding decreased by $36 million, or 5.2% from FY 2005-2015, tuition and fee revenue during this same period increased by an incredible $668 million, or 155.5% (1)!
Tuition revenue continues to increase. This year’s freshman class is the largest in history, and the Administration has announced plans to increase enrollment by 15% over the next 5 years. And while tuition is frozen for in-state students, it continues to rise for out-of-state and international students. (2)
Meanwhile, the TAs who help educate students continue to make less than a living wage. The current minimum salary for a graduate employee is $16,360.80 (3), which falls well short of the OFSA’s published cost of living for an in-resident graduate employee with a tuition waiver: $22,314 (3). And yet the Administration’s wages proposal doesn’t guarantee any raises.
So where’s this money going? To a bloated administration and unnecessary vanity projects. The Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus found that, from 2004-2010, a 2.3% increase in students and a 1.8% in faculty was matched by a 31.1% increase in the number of full-time administrators (4). And while the Administration claims they simply don’t have the money to provide for the needs of grad employees, just this year they announced plans for a $248 million renovation to the Illini Union, the costliest project in the University’s history (5). Shouldn’t the Administration be prioritizing education first?