Researchers say an Illinois law that locks in tuition rates for in-state students appears to have the unintended effect of driving up tuition for out-of-state students and fees for all.

The law, which took effect in 2004, guarantees that a student starting as a freshman at a state university will pay the same tuition rate for four years.

Only three other states have similar laws, Oklahoma, Texas and North Carolina.

Darrell Hoemann / Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

University of Illinois Trustees have unanimously approved freezing tuition rates for the second straight year for in-state freshman. 

Tuition and fees will go up by less than 0.1 percent on the Urbana campus, and remain flat in Springfield and Chicago. 

Room and board rates will increase by $300 or less on all three campuses.

Trustees approved tuition rates even as they learned the school has covered $671 million in expenses because of the lack of a state budget.

NIU Board Approves Tuition Hike

Jun 20, 2013

Tuition is going up at Northern Illinois University. On Thursday, the Board of Trustees approved a 2-percent increase for incoming freshman and graduate students.

UPDATE: Rock Valley College Trustees have rejected a $6 per credit hour tuition rate hike. But the discussion about the need for a tuition increase will continue next month.

Community colleges in Illinois sometimes face a disincentive for wanting to keep tuition rates lower. A potential law change might make things easier. But opponents of the current rules say they come with unintended consequences. Officials say the law is partly to blame for a possible rate hike at a northern Illinois school.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

This fall’s crop of freshmen at Northern Illinois University can expect to pay $200 more in tuition per semester than last year’s freshmen. The NIU Board of Trustees approved a tuition increase of 4.75% at its meeting Thursday.