Tuition freeze makes Daniels big man on campus
Monday, March 04, 2013 10:00 AM
There was a lot of second guessing from Purdue University students when former Gov. Mitch Daniels was named president of the school.
Some felt he wasn't a friend of education based on some of the budget-cutting decisions he made while governor. Daniels frequently complained about the increasing costs of a college education.
Well, talk about a quick turn-around. Only a few months later Daniels, can take a walk through campus and enjoy the smiles of students.
He froze tuition for the next two years on Purdue University's West Lafayette campus.
Overnight he turned into the big man on campus.
Last week, Daniels announced that students on Purdue's main campus would see the same base tuition rate - $9,900 a year for Indiana residents - that they're paying this school year. (Student rates still will include an additional $92 a year that students approved several years ago to finance the new student rec center.)
In real money, a freeze would save Purdue students $445 - based on a 4.5 percent increase - next year. In other words, about one-third of the $1,370 Purdue figures students need for books and materials each year, according to the Purdue Data Digest.
"In this period of national economic stagnation, it's time for us to hit the pause button on tuition increases," Daniels said. "We will fit our spending to their budgets - not the other way around."
For Purdue, where tuition has gone up every year since 1976 - and has roughly doubled in the past dozen years - past mentions of carrying one year's tuition rate over to the next year has been roundly scoffed. Greater tuition meant more resources which meant a more valuable degree. Or so the logic went.
What makes Daniels' proclamation all the more powerful is the timing of the thing. Generally tuition increases wait until after the Indiana General Assembly finishes work on the next two-year state budget. That meant students often were gone for the summer when the next round of tuition increases were settled.
So it's a bit of a leap of faith for Daniels and Purdue, locking into this year's rates for the next two years without a guarantee of state funding.
It's March in Indiana, so we'll call Daniels move a slam-dunk.
It's time for the rest of Indiana's public universities to follow Daniels' lead.