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U of Illinois could request 4 percent state-funding increase

Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 10:39 p.m. CDT

URBANA – The University of Illinois is seeking about a 4 percent increase in state funding for the 2016 fiscal year.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reported Tuesday that the school requested a $68 million increase in operating funds. It would be the first time the state's flagship school received a boost in state funding time since 2009. Nearly all of that $19 million was later withdrawn.

The school currently is operating on $1.4 million less than last year.

Christophe Pierre, vice president for academic affairs, told school trustees at a meeting Monday that the state budget and an overhaul of the state's pension system are uncertain. So is federal support for research. But health care costs are rising and the school is nearing the upper limits on tuition rates.

"Even though our state appropriations have remained stagnant at best, it's important to remain optimistic," he said.

The proposed budget includes $40 million for "competitive compensation" for faculty. The rest of the money would be allocated for facility updates and payroll increases.

The University of Illinois projects its three campuses are in need of $670 million worth of updates, including the redevelopment of the main and undergraduate libraries.

The school is also asking for a separate supplemental appropriation of $25 million to cover treatment costs for low-income patients at its Chicago health care center. Hospital officials said a state hospital fund intended to pay those costs ran $50 million short last year.

Pierre said the estimates get "a little more depressing" each year, making it very hard for the university to plan for capital improvements. The state has not funded any of the school's capital budget requests for a decade.

He said the school will actively seek other sources of funding, such as higher tuition for out-of-state and international students and strategic investment and fundraising, in an effort to improvement cost containment and prudent spending.

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Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com

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