Eastern Illinois University's Board of Trustees on Friday approved an increase in room and board rates for students living in EIU housing during the 2007-2008 school year.
According to Mark Hudson, director of Housing and Dining Services, increases were needed to help cover expected hikes in utilities and food costs, as well as to fund residence hall improvements.
As the largest student employer on campus, the department also will need the increased revenue to help offset the pending $1-per-hour increase in the minimum wage. Effective July 1, Illinois workers earning minimum wage will see an increase from $6.50 to $7.50 an hour.
EIU's Housing and Dining Services currently employs approximately 600 university students.
Students living in EIU's residence halls and Greek Court will see increases of $206 to $232 per semester (a 6.95 percent increase), depending on the chosen meal plan. Room and board rates will range from $3,161 per semester for a 7 Plus Meal Option to $3,562 for the 15 Plus Meal Option.
The four meal-plan options each permit students a specified number of dining center meals per week, plus a specified number of "dining dollars" which can be used to buy additional meals in any dining center; make purchases at Eastern's Food Court, Java B & B and Panther Pantry in the MLK Jr. Union and at the university's two residence hall convenience centers; and provide dining center meals to guests.
Students living in University Apartments will also see an increase in the rates they pay. The plan calls for increases of between $11 and $12 per month (an approximate 3 percent increase), with rent ranging from $375 to $421 a month, depending on the type of apartment being rented (one-bedroom, efficiency or super efficiency).
Rate increases ranging from 4 to 5 percent will also affect students living in University Court, a university-owned apartment complex for sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate students. Rates there will range from $2,197 to $2,937 per semester, depending on the type of apartment being rented.
This will be the first increase in University Court rates since the 2005-2006 school year, and have become necessary due to increases in operational costs.
According to Hudson, approximately 40 percent of Eastern's student body resides in university housing.
Surveys among those residents indicate that "students really feel like they get a good return on their investment," Hudson said, "and we work hard to make sure they continue to feel that way."
On-going multi-year projects involve room renovations, including fresh paint and the installation of new furniture, and the addition of sprinkler systems in all residence halls. The university is in the "designing stage" of enhancing student bathrooms, as well, Hudson said.