Purdue Tuition Freeze Puts Pressure On Indiana's Other Schools

Tim Goral's picture

Purdue University's decision to freeze tuition for the next two years is putting public scrutiny on policies at the state's other public universities, but many say they won't be pressured to follow suit.

President Mitch Daniels announced the freeze for Purdue's West Lafayette campus March 1, saying "it's time for us to hit the pause button on tuition increases." It's the first time in 36 years that Purdue students haven't seen an increase.

The decision pleased lawmakers drafting the state's next budget, including Sen. Luke Kenley, who criticized universities for tuition increases in 2009 while Daniels was governor and withheld funding for capital projects until they softened their stance.

While many agree that colleges can't sustain continued tuition increases if they're to remain affordable, schools like Indiana University say a freeze isn't the only way to go.

"Everybody seems to want to think, well, Purdue did something, so IU needs to respond," IU spokesman Mark Land told The Indianapolis Star. "We're not going to feel like we're pressured toward anything by anybody else's actions."

But Kenley, the Senate's point man on the two-year budget lawmakers are crafting, cautioned that any school that raises its costs this year should be prepared to justify the move.

Tuition increases across the country have exceeded the rate of inflation. At Purdue, for instance, tuition has more than doubled since 2002, when it was $4,164, according to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. The rate now is $9,900 a year.

Daniels has targeted affordability and student debt issues since taking office at Purdue in January. He ordered the tuition freeze about six weeks after taking office, and Purdue is now cutting its expenses by $40 million to cover the money a tuition increase would have generated.

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