Housing Projects Contribute to Rising College Costs

Updating housing at Illinois universities makes sure students have a place to call home. But it’s one of the reasons the cost of college is going up. Chris Slaby reports.

Richard Wheeler is a top administrator at the University of Illinois. During a Springfield hearing on college affordability, he said updated safety codes mean dorms need to be updated, and sometimes that means starting from scratch.

Wheeler said the U. of I. borrowed $80 million to complete a new dormitory at its Urbana-Champaign campus, which replaces a 50-year old building.

In addition,

WHEELER: “We must provide students with services in them that keep us competitive with peer universities.”

Services, like quality Internet access.

Northern Illinois University did just that by removing underused telephone lines in dorms and using the savings to upgrade its Internet connections.

Kelly Wesener Michael is in student affairs at Northern. She said university housing has to be financially self-supporting, and has had to face rising costs for food and heating.

Even still,

MICHAEL: “Our 24 hour a day, 365 day a year operation is one the largest employers on campus, providing over 700 students jobs to fund their college experience.”

Wesener Michael said N.I.U., like U. of I., has had to borrow money to pay for some housing projects.

—Chris Slaby

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