Debt Forgiveness Won’t Shield Students from Illinois’ Pension Pinch



Families in Illinois are now burdened with the fourth most expensive in-state tuition prices in the nation, and the highest in the Midwest. 

Take U of I’s flagship Urbana-Champaign campus, with base tuition and fees now starting at $17,138 a year. In comparison, a Big-10 education for in-state students attending Indiana University-Bloomington or the University of Wisconsin-Madison costs nearly $6,000 less.

Illinois schools cost more because most other states don’t have Illinois-sized pension debt – most recently estimated at $140 billion by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. 

Illinois Policy Institute research shows state funding has declined for higher education operations by 26%  in real terms from fiscal year 2007 through fiscal year 2022, while spending on university pensions has exploded by 514%.

Another way of looking at it is the State Universities Retirement System pension payments accounted for 9% of the state’s higher education spending in 2007. Today, they account for 44% of total higher education dollars. That translates to $776 million less for colleges and universities to allocate toward services that directly benefit students in 2022.

Author(s): Amy Korte

Publication Date: 14 Sept 2022

Publication Site: Real Clear Policy