INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s top higher education official warned Monday
that legislators may demand explanations from public colleges and
universities if the schools approve tuition hikes in excess of caps recently
suggested by a state panel.
Earlier this month, the state’s higher education commission asked Indiana’s
seven public colleges and universities to raise tuition for in-state
students by no more than 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent.
If schools approve sharper tuition increases, top lawmakers may have some
tough questions, said Teresa Lubbers, the state’s higher education
“The first time we did this, in 2009, legislative leaders on the budget
committee did call the institutions to have them explain why they did what
they did,” Lubbers said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they did that again.”
Although the universities aren’t required to follow the commission’s tuition
recommendations, Lubbers has warned that higher increases threaten to “price
people out of their opportunity for a middle-class life in Indiana.”
Indiana University has proposed a 3.5 percent tuition increase for in-state
students, but when a new rehabilitation and repair fee is factored in, IU’s
overall cost increase will be 5.5 percent in 2011-12 and 5.4 percent in
2012-13. Those increases will need to be approved by the university’s board
of trustees, which will meet to consider the proposals on May 31.
IU President Michael A. McRobbie said in a statement that the university has
successfully reduced some of its costs by making its administrative
“processes leaner and more efficient” in response to significant drops in
state revenues in the recent years.
But he said IU cannot cover all of its anticipated needs by continuing to
reduce its administrative costs.
Ball State University has announced a proposal to increase tuition and fees
by 3.9 percent next year and by an additional 4.9 percent in 2012-13. That
and other tuition proposals will be discussed at a May 31 public hearing,
and then presented to the school’s trustees at their June meeting.
Ball State said the increases are necessary to fund its operating budget.
“I believe this is the right decision for our students and the university,”
said Randy Howard, vice president for business affairs and treasurer. “Our
mission is to provide an education that prepares them to succeed in a
rapidly changing economy.”
Purdue University has proposed raising the cost of attending the West
Lafayette campus by 4.5 percent for in-state students — an amount that
includes a 1 percent increase for a fitness and wellness fee approved by
state lawmakers. That fee will be phased in over three years, beginning with
a $91 charge for the 2011-12 academic year.
Lubbers said she was heartened that Ivy Tech Community College and Purdue’s
three regional campuses have “clearly abided” by the commission’s tuition
suggestions by proposing increases of just 2.5 percent.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said
recently that he hoped college officials have been getting the message that
families just can’t take another big increase.
Lubbers said holding down tuition increases is important because higher
costs mean college will out of the reach for more young people in the state.
He also said many young people cannot afford college at all, while others
never complete a degree because they can’t pay for several years of classes.
“We understand that all enterprises have legitimate expenses and costs but
we believe Hoosier families and students are especially stressed right now,”