05/03/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

University of Illinois Tuition Hike: Cost Of Education May Go Up 20 Percent

Facing nearly half a billion dollars of unpaid bills from the state, the University of Illinois is likely to raise tuition rates nearly 20 percent over the next four years.

The university will also seek to borrow money against tuition and state funding, something Interim President Stanley Ikenberry opposed recently, but now finds inevitable.

"I've done a 180" on the issue, he said Monday.

The talk of rate increases comes less than a week after violent protests at the University of California Berkeley over a proposed 32 percent tuition increase at that school.

This Thursday, March 4, has been named a "day of action," and protests against tuition increases and funding cuts have been planned at the University of Illinois' Chicago and Urbana-Champaign campuses.

But Ikenberry told the Champaign News-Gazette that the tuition increases were the only way to solve a massive budget shortfall on the state level.

U of I submitted over $600 million of bills to the state, but has received only $133 million in payments. And for the first time in school history, tuition and fees account for a greater share of the university's budget than state aid.

And with the state budget crisis only worsening, the schools will have to increase their reliance on students and parents. Ikenberry had "previously predicted a tuition increase of about 9 or 10 percent," but now says "the figure could be as high as 20 percent" and most likely "in the mid-teens," the News-Gazette reports.

Thursday's planned rallies will be an early barometer of just how willing the student body is to bear these costs.