Tuition Differentials: Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Tuition Differential (TD)?
Tuition differentials are not tuition at all; they are a fee charged to undergraduate and graduate students in addition to the base tuition rate. TDs are implemented according to degree program. TDs are not covered by tuition waivers.
Why do only some departments have tuition differentials?
A TD can be proposed by a College Dean, Department Chair or Director of Graduate Studies, and is approved by the College Dean and Board of Trustees. In the proposal, the department must justify the TD with examples of why it costs more to deliver the program and how the funds will be used.
How do departments justify implementing TDs?
The main argument for TDs is to supplement high-cost programs, such as programs that require expensive lab equipment.
So then why do students in non-lab programs like Art History or Business pay a TD?
The TDs implemented in several degree programs where no apparent special costs are associated with the implementation of the program. Often TDs are simply used to pay faculty and fill-in budget gaps for day-to-day operations. Increasing fees to sustain basic operating budgets creates a disproportionate burden on graduate students.
What are these TDs used for?
The university does not provide information as to how the TDs are used. Some departments, such as CUPPA and Business, have disclosed that they use the money for their regular instructional budgets and general operating expenses.
Do TDs increase?
Yes. The average increase in TDs from the 2012-13 to the 2013-14 school year was $500.
Are continuing students subject to increases in TDs?
Yes. Students have to pay the TD that is charged that year even if they initially enrolled when the TD was lower.
Isn’t it a bad time to abolish TDs during a state budget crisis?
The State of Illinois is in the middle of a long budget crisis and has withheld promised funds to many state agencies including UIC. Budget cuts are a reality and need to be addressed by the state legislature. We need to demand that UIC gets the funding it needs to operate from the state instead of from its students. Additionally, UIC has around $300 million in unrestricted funds that could be used to address budget shortfalls in certain departments. Public institutions like UIC were established to provide affordable education to all. Students today are graduating with more than twice the debt that students 20 years ago had, and with fewer job opportunities available. Earning an advanced degree is not a guarantee for future success, making it harder to justify taking on substantial debt.
Is there a venue to address our concerns about TDs?
Unlike all other fees, concerns about TDs do not go before the Campus Fee Committee. TDs are unique because only the Board of Trustees have the authority to approve or revoke them.
How do I get involved with the GEO to address this issue?
The GEO is continually organizing around this issue. You can get involved by contacting the GEO (firstname.lastname@example.org) and addressing the existence of Tuition Differentials within your own department, or, if your home department has not yet implemented a TD, help to organize in departments where one currently exists.