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Indiana universities face questions over tuition increases

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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 commissioner.

"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.

"To maintain our academic quality and fully serve the needs of our growing student population, these recommended tuition increases also are needed," McRobbie said.

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," she said.

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  • Indiana Reform Plan
    The Indiana Commission on Higher Education is toothless and should be replace with a Indiana Board of Regents who have the power to demand accessibility, affordability, and accountability of higher education in return for the billions of dollars in state and federal funds that they receive each year.
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    Below are the Washington Monthly's 2010 rankings of the 4-year public and private not-for-profit colleges in America with the worst graduation rates.

    This list does not include 2 year colleges like Ivy Tech which also have terrible graduation rates.

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    U. S. Secretary of Education demands accessibility, affordability, and accountability of higher education.

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  • Its Time For Action
    Higher education has financially been put out of reach for many Hoosiers after universities have increase tuition by over 100% just in my kids life times.

    Our state government funds some of the lowest performing "higher education" institutions in the nation.

    The state legislature should completely cut off funding to these low performing state colleges and force IU and Purdue to spin off or close there redundant and failing campuses outside of Bloomington, Lafayette, and Indianapolis.

    These organizations need to get a dose of the new reality we all are facing.
  • make them teach
    Look at most of the tenured professors at the big state schools. Many of them make over $100k/yr and only teach a class or 2. They spend more time consulting than they do teaching. Maybe if they actually did 40+ hours of work for the university, it wouldn't be so expensive.

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  1. I think the poster was being sarcastic and only posting or making fun of what is usually posted on here about anything being built in BR or d'town for that matter.

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  3. So disappointed in WIBC. This is the last straw to lose a good local morning program. I used to be able to rely on WIBC to give me good local information, news, weather and traffic on my 45 minute commute.Two incidents when I needed local, accurate information regarding severe weather were the first signs I could not now rely on WIBC. I work weekend 12 hour nights for a downtown hospital. This past winter when we had the worst snowfall in my 50 years of life, I came home on a Sunday morning, went to sleep (because I was to go back in Sunday night for another 12 hour shift), and woke up around 1 p.m. to a house with no electricity. I keep an old battery powered radio around and turned on WIBC to see what was going on with the winter storm and the roads and the power outage. Sigh. Only policital stuff. Not even a break in to update on the winter storm warning. The second weather incident occurred when I was driving home during a severe thunderstorm a few months ago. I had already gotten a call from my husband that a tornado warning was just southwest of where I had been. I turned to WIBC to find out what direction the storm was headed so I could figure out a route home, only to find Rush on the air, and again, no breaking away from this stupidity to give me information. Thank God for my phone, which gave me the warning that I was driving in an area where a tornado was seen. Thanks for nothing WIBC. Good luck to you, Steve! We need more of you and not the politics of hatred that WIBC wants to shove at us. Good thing I have Satellite radio.

  4. I read the retail roundup article and tried Burritos and Beers tonight. I'm glad I did, for the food was great. Fresh authentic Mexican food. Great seasoning on the carne asada. A must try!!! Thanks for sharing.

  5. John, unfortunately CTRWD wants to put the tank(s) right next to a nature preserve and at the southern entrance to Carmel off of Keystone. Not exactly the kind of message you want to send to residents and visitors (come see our tanks as you enter our city and we build stuff in nature preserves...

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