REALITY CHECK: Will free UI tuition program hike prices for other students?

    REALITY CHECK: Will free UI tuition program hike prices for other students?<p>{/p}

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WICS) -- The University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana announced this week a new program that promises free tuition to first year and transfer students with an annual family household income of $61,000 per year or below.

    The program is called "The Illinois Commitment."

    It is a program that University of Illinois Provost Kevin Pitts says adds $16 million to the $138 million that the University system shells out each year to help students pay their tuition.

    "That money primarily comes from tuition revenue that is redirected into student support," Pitts said.

    At the University of Illinois, tuition can run a full-time student up to $18,000 per academic year. When you add room, board and fees, it can cost up to $36,000 per year total.

    "The University of Michigan has a similar program for Michigan resident," Pitts said. "Ohio State has a similar program for Ohio residents."

    These low-income need based funding programs are often met with push-back from policy and education analysts. NPR released a report in late 2017 that showed tuition rates increased $200 per year per student after the launch of the Excelsior scholarship for state schools in New York.

    Critics also blasted the University of Michigan for their HAIL scholarship, calling it a marketing ploy to attract students.

    Pitts says at the University of Illinois, that will not happen.

    "We also have a number of students who actually do pay full tuition so that is where we will be taking out money and the campus has committed to redirecting that money into student support," Pitts said.

    The Illinois Commitment program is set to begin next fall.

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