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Proposed Budget Cuts Millions for Universities

The state's public universities could take a nearly 5 percent hit, equaling hundreds of millions of dollars, under Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed budget. Today, the leaders of a handful of schools are sharing the potential impact with lawmakers.

The president of the University of Illinois said the cut would lead to larger class sizes and fewer scholarships for needy students. It could also mean shorter hours for school buildings, like the library.

State funding makes up 15 percent of the budget for the U of I's campuses in Urbana, Springfield, and Chicago. Some of the money is earmarked for certain expenses, but most of it goes into the university's main operating fund.

University of Illinois president Dr. Robert Easter told lawmakers today the school has needed to raise tuition to offset cuts from the state over the past 10 years.

"That's a critical part of our overall budget," Easter said. "Our students, parents, families are bearing a larger and larger cost of operating the University of Illinois."

Tuition, fees, and room and board have almost doubled in the last 10 years at the Urbana and Springfield campuses.

Lawmakers questioned a few expenses in the current U of I budget, including $1.1 million in increases for the top 10 salaries, and one dean who makes more than $650,000 a year.

Easter said administrators are reviewing the budget comparison. He thinks the difference is due to the calculation of temporary and interim positions.

The university is asking for the same amount of money it received from the state last year: about $650 million.

The state owes $485 million to the U of I. The total budget for the University of Illinois' three campuses is roughly $4.5 billion. Only a quarter of that money comes from tuition and fees.