New national labor rules are going to cost Illinois’ universities millions of dollars, potentially increasing tuition costs.

Starting Dec. 1, 2016, employers will have to comply with new rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Most workers making up to $47,476 annually will be eligible for overtime pay for hours exceeding 40 per week. That salary level is more than double the current threshold of $23,660.

A spokesman for the University of Illinois said officials are still working to calculate the cost. A spokesman for Illinois State University said it will cost the university up to $2.2 million per year to get up to 275 employees in line with the new standard.

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State University Civil Service System Executive Director Jeff Brownfield said the new rules will be felt in higher-education budgets across the state.

“It’s a serious issue for all of the campuses,” Brownfield said. “It’s a serious dollar figure. It’s potentially going to be a very large dollar figure when you look at it statewide.”

Brownfield said the changes could mean higher tuition, more unpaid days for workers, and layoffs.

“You look at how much it’s going to cost in terms of labor, is there then the potential to say, ‘Well, we used to have 100 people in this particular college, we can only afford 92?’ As labor costs go up, something, somewhere has to give.”

Brownfield stressed that lawmakers will have to be aware of the potential new costs when drafting the state’s budget. Two lawmakers privy to ongoing budget discussions said the issue hasn’t come up.


(Copyright WBGZ /