Minimum Wage Increase & Tuition


Illinois recently passed a gradual minimum wage increase to $15 an hour by 2025, which means Illinois will have one of the highest minimum wages in America. This will affect every place of employment in the state, from small businesses to the largest corporations. The education system in Illinois will have to pay the new minimum wage as well, and the pay increase may also hurt students.

Due to the professional nature of most University positions, most of the workers currently in the University of Illinois system are already paid more than $15 an hour, and will see no change in pay and will not affect the University budget. However, there are about 17,000 undergraduate workers who make considerably less than the new minimum wage of $15 an hour.

There are only two ways to make up this difference: either the U of I system will have to drop student positions or the budget will have to be increased to meet this new wage demand. According to the University of Illinois, the undergraduate worker budget will have to be increased by $2,500,000 to meet this demand in order to keep all 17,000 jobs.

This is being cited as a reason to end the tuition freeze that has been ongoing for five years. Using the numbers provided by the official budget report of the U of I system, this $2.5 million is only 0.0366 percent of the 2019 budget of $6,829,297,000.

An end to a tuition freeze would mean students’ tuition rates would increase by much more than 0.0366%, as a tuition raise of that amount would only cost each UIS student an additional $7.73- $12.81, according to the cost of attendance rates provided by the UIS website. An end of a tuition freeze would lead to an increase of much more than thirteen dollars.

Blaming the minimum wage on the need to raise tuition is simply a way to avoid stating the unpopular truth, which is that due to influences like inflation, costs will continue to rise by much more than this minimum wage increase is going to affect the university budget. The tuition freeze will most likely end soon within the U of I system. But when the minimum wage is blamed. Be aware that there are many factors that affect the potential increase in tuition