CHICAGO --For the first time ever, it will cost more than $20,000 a year for tuition, housing and other fees at Champaign Urbana.But Illinois isn't alone. College costs are skyrocketing across the country. During the past ten to fifteen years, the cost of a college education--public or private--has far outpaced the rate of inflation. And as the better public institutions try to compete with the private ones, tuition payers are footing the bill. It's UIC's spring break tour for prospective students and their parents, who learned that tuition there will increase 9.5 percent for enrollments next fall. "We weren't able to save enough. We have to go to loans," said Betty Brewster, Homewood parent. "Student loans are getting higher each year. And it's kind of scary where the kids are going to be once they graduate with the amount of debt they have," said Kathy Cusack, Woodstock parent. 9.5% U OF I INCREASE
ROOM/BOARD $ 8, 156
TOTAL $18,670 CHAMPAIGN/URBANA:
ROOM/BOARD $ 8,034
TOTAL $20,034 This week, the University of Illinois raised tuition and fees for new UIC students to $10,514. Add on-campus room and board for a total cost of just under $19,000. The flagship Champaign Urbana campus will cost more than $20,000: $12,000 for tuition and fees and just more than $8,000 for room and board. "I mean, expenses go up. They offer a lot here at the University of Illinois," said John Brewster, Homewood parent. But university officials say the increases were caused by more than the higher cost of living. They say the U of I, like universities around the country, is having to pay more for the best faculty. "A lot of other schools, elite schools are competing for these faculty members. And so we need to be able to recruit them, hire them and keep them," said Tom Hardy, University of Illinois spokesman. UIC student Rafael Saura said he doesn't believe in paying more for big-name professors. "High-end professors, I don't believe you really need them. Most professors will be able to teach you as well as any other professor can," he said. Other state universities, including Northern, Northeastern, Western and Southern Illinois, also have announced tuition increases. But by far, the U of I campuses remain the most expensive. Hardy concedes there is concern the system could price itself beyond the means of most state residents. "You wonder when you're gonna get to that tipping balance. And have we gotten there already for some family and perhaps not for others?" he said. To ease cost pressures in the future, the U of I system could consider what some systems in other states have done, that is, to increase the number of out of state students who pay a much higher tuition. But the more out-of-staters admitted, the fewer in-state students can attend the university that their families pay taxes to support.