SIU working to boost enrollment amid possible tuition, fee hikes

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - There are fewer students at SIU than there were a decade ago, but university administrators are trying to turn that around.

"We had some years where we weren't getting the students but that's changed a great deal," said SIU Chancellor Rita Cheng.

The numbers still show enrollment is down by about 300 students for the spring semester, but Cheng says they're seeing more new students, transfer students and international students coming in than expected.

Still, she says that's not enough to fill the gap left by small freshman classes spanning a number of years.

"We need several years of big classes to offset the smaller classes. And we're working on it," said Cheng.

But some say that may be harder to accomplish with the possibility of state cuts to grant funding and tuition hikes on the horizon.

"Illinois has no money, so a lot of kids are like, 'Uh, I'll go to community college or I won't go at all," said SIU Senior Dwayne Moore from Chicago. "It's sad, but that's what's happening."

But Cheng says a tuition hike may be necessary. She says SIU gets its revenue from only two places: the state and the student body. If lawmakers continue to cut funding, students may have to make up the difference.

"Without that, we will have a big hole in our budget and we have costs we're committed to," said Cheng. "We have to pay our employees competitive wages and a quality education does cost money."

The chancellor says students will also soon see their fees increase to help pay for rising energy costs, faculty salary increases, building repairs, and student insurance.

The increase would cost students an additional $57.40 per semester.

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