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By: Eric Weddle
The cost of basic in-state tuition at Purdue University is expected to remain close to $10,000 each of the next two years under a tuition freeze officials announced today.
President Mitch Daniels was expected to make a formal announcement today, but some details were released Thursday in advance of the announcement.
The gist of the news is this: Current base tuition for Indiana and non-Indiana resident students will remain at current levels until the end of the 2014-15 school year on the West Lafayette campus. This will be the first time in 37 years Purdue has not increased tuition going into a new budget cycle.
“I have found a broad consensus among faculty and staff to put the interests of our students and their families first,” Daniels said in a statement.
“In this period of national economic stagnation, it’s time for us to hit the pause button on tuition increases. Our students and their families deserve a high-value education that they can afford. We will fit our spending to their budgets — not the other way around. Purdue is a national leader in the value of its degrees, and we intend to increase that value further.”
Purdue’s colleges and administrative units are expected to make affordability a priority, Daniels said in prepared remarks.
Tuition freezes at public and private colleges have started to become, if not common, less rare as families and lawmakers question tuition increases that far outstrip inflation. In recent weeks:
• Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee asked its Board of Trustees to keep rates stable for the next year.
• Upper Iowa University announced this week state students would not see an increase.
• In Nebraska, some state lawmakers want to fund University of Nebraska and other state colleges at levels that would allow them to hold current rates for two years.
Sen. Brandt Hersh-man, R-Buck Creek, said the freeze was a “strong statement” for increased affordability by Daniels. Since 2002, tuition at Purdue has increased 77 percent for in-state students.
“This raises the bar, absolutely,” Hershman said, about high education affordability in the state. “There is no doubt all of our universities look at one another for guidance.”
Indiana ranks 11th in the nation for student debt, according to the Project on Student Debt. The average amount of debt for 2011 graduates at Indiana’s public four-year colleges rose to $27,500 last year, $800 more than the national average.
Students on the campus Thursday evening were surprised by and receptive to the move. Computer science majors Andrew Ruberson and Austin Miller appreciated knowing their costs more than two years in advance.
“I think it’s good for the families that are worried about their college funds. They don’t have to worry about steep increases. They know where it’s going to be for at least two years,” said Miller, a Carmel sophomore.
Selena Staun, a Granger freshmen studying biochemistry, said for students like her without scholarships, the freeze provides a sense of financial relief.
“... It would make it easier for my parents to plan since they are paying for my college, which is very nice of them,” she said.
Base tuition now for Indiana undergraduates at West Lafayette is $9,900, a fee that doesn’t include extra fees for some academic programs or a $92 fee all students pay for campus fitness center improvements.
Nonresident tuition and fees are $28,702. International students pay an additional $2,000 fee for a total $30,702. According to Purdue’s website, the total cost of attending Purdue, including room, board and other costs, is $23,468 for Indiana students, $42,480 for non-resident; and $44,480 for international students annually.
Rates for 2013-14 will be $9,992 per year for Indiana residents. That includes the final phase of a previously approved fee for the new campus fitness and wellness program. Nonresident tuition and fees will be $28,794. International students will pay $30,794. Fees for specific majors and programs may increase, according to Purdue.
Rates for 2014-15 were not available Thursday. While the base will be frozen, ancillary fees may vary.
Since becoming Purdue’s 12th president in mid-January, Daniels has been quietly discussing the possibility of a freeze, said professor J. Paul Robinson who was involved in some meetings.
“Privately he mentioned to me that this would be something we have to think about, we have an obligation to families who are putting their kids through school,” said Robinson, chairman of theUniversity Senate. “We have to deal with costs. I am not going to be arguing with that. This is fundamental to the faculty too.
“I think this will be a shared sacrifice and the beneficiaries will be families and students. But this will make a better school. Across the board we will be forced to look at what we do and do it for the right reason: it is for the benefit of the student.”
The impact on Purdue’s budget for holding tuition is unclear. Purdue is requesting $313.4 million in operating appropriations systemwide for each of the next two years. That is a $1.1 million, or 0.3 percent, increase from present funding levels.
Robinson plans to create a new committee within the University Senate for faculty to discuss ways they can save costs.
“We don’t want (the savings) to be just seen on administration,” he said. “Most of us believe administration has gone out of control, but we feel that we have to share in some of that goal.”
Tuition at Purdue’s regional campuses — Calumet, North Central and Fort Wayne — will be determined separately based on enrollment and other factors.
Purdue’s board of trustees plans to release and approve its tuition and fee recommendation at all campuses for the next two academic years in May.
Contributing: Brian Riverafirstname.lastname@example.org