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Education Desk: Does Truth-In-Tuition Law Mean Higher Rates?

University of Illinois Public Affairs

Illinois’ popular truth-in-tuition law was designed to keep college affordable. Since 2003, parents have banked on Illinois’ popular truth-in-tuition law that guarantees their kids’ tuition rate will remain stable for at least four years.

James Applegate, director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, says that allows families to plan their finances, making the state’s public universities an attractive option. 

But think about it: 

“If you’re an institution, and you know when you set tuition you’re locked in for four years, and you don’t know what the next four years will bring — you don’t even know if it’s going to bring you a budget — what would be more likely: That you would try to set it a little bit on the high end, to protect yourself?” Applegate asks. "Or make it the lowest possible tuition you could make.”

The law will be one topic the board will discuss at its meeting Tuesday in the larger context of making college more affordable. Applegate says he expects a lively debate.

“There’s a recent study that was done that shows that that kind of a law has actually led to overall Illinois tuitions rising 20 percent more than those in other states that don’t have such a law,” he says.

The board will also discuss the state’s complicated procurement rules.


After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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