Others should follow Purdue's tuition freeze
Saturday, January 25, 2014 4:00 AM
In today's post-recession economy, there is a premium on up-to-date skills and workforce flexibility. But some potential workers were being forced out of opportunities by high college tuition.
Purdue University tried to stem some of that negative inertia by freezing tuition. Clearly it will be years before we see if that pays off, but in the short run it certainly will help.
To that end, university President Mitch Daniels said last week that he will ask the school's trustees to extend the tuition freeze on the West Lafayette campus for a third year.
In an open letter posted on Purdue's website, Daniels said he plans to call on trustees this spring to extend the two-year tuition freeze for one more year as part of a push to make the university more attractive and affordable for families.
The tuition freeze announced in March broke Purdue's 36-year string of tuition hikes and keeps in-state tuition at about $10,000 a year for some 10,000 students on the main campus.
Last year's tuition freeze was followed by a 5 percent cut in the costs of student meal plans and other cost-reduction steps that Daniels said are part of a push to "base Purdue's reputation on the proven excellence of its faculty and graduates, not on its sticker price."
"We stated that henceforth we would seek to adjust our spending to the budgets of students' families rather than require that they adjust their budgets to ours," Daniels said in his message.
He also said he wants Purdue to continue a "campuswide commitment" toward economizing in the year ahead and cited numerous successful cost-reduction moves last year. Those include the sale of 10 little-used campus vehicles for about $10,000 each and cutting unneeded rental storage in half, saving $160,000 per year.
"If we can maintain a campuswide commitment to holding costs down, counting every $10,000 saved as a 'student tuition equivalent,' we can fulfill our duty to our students, taxpayers and everyone who chooses to invest in Purdue's enterprise," Daniels said in his message.
These moves are certain to help students and likely will benefit the state's economy in the long run.
Yes, some - maybe even many - of Purdue's graduates will leave the state for jobs. But many will stay in Indiana, and others will return to the state after a sojourn elsewhere.
By freezing tuition, the university will help ensure more students enjoy the education they will need to prosper in today's economy.