Photo: Purdue University
President Mitch Daniels, who made the freeze one of his first announcements upon taking the reins of the school, received formal approval of the move at Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting.
Earlier in the week, the president was quick to say he couldn’t predict how long the policy would last.
“Well, all we can say is we think we can see our way clear to a third year. And we’ll just take it a bit at a time. It can’t be permanent, of course. All that will be permanent, or as long as this board has its way, is a policy of restraint.”
The school’s own numbers show Purdue is largely paying for the freeze by increasing its non-resident population. The school has generated about $784 million dollars a year in tuition each of the last two years. That’s because out-of-state and international students pay three times what in-state students pay. And as in-state attendance drops, non-resident attendance has increased by nearly a thousand students over the past three years. In addition, the school now has more students who are non-residents than it does native Hoosiers.
With the freeze in place, tuition for most in-state students will stay around $10,000 per year. Out-of-state and international students will pay closer to $30,000 a year for classes. The school’s website says room and board costs an additional $10,000 per year for all students living on campus.
Daniels says the freeze is also a message to those who opposed his budget-cutting measures to continue tightening their belts.
“Self-imposing a limit like the freeze is really just a way to force or, I hope, encourage everybody to look for ways they might not have thought of before. Or to do things which they already knew were good ideas but had hesitated to do,” he says.
Daniels says Purdue staff will see an average raise of about 1.5% this year – that’s about in line with the federal inflation rate. Daniels says the move wasn’t designed to compete with price hikes at other schools, but he does concede it may act that way.
Tuition freeze leading to more donor generosity
As he asked the school’s Board of Trustees to give preliminary approval to a third year of a tuition freeze, Daniels indicated holding the line on tuition is causing Purdue donors to be more generous.
Daniels showed the Trustees numbers indicating the school could reap $50 million in gifts before the fiscal year ends in June. The amount already pledged marks about a 50-percent increase over the annual amount the school was given, on average, over the last five years – but that figure may be skewed by the nationwide recession and the downturn in giving it precipitated.
Either way, Assistant Vice President for Development Greg Kapp says the freeze has made his job of selling the school easier.
“It’s a great conversation to have with a donor when you’re on the phone and you can say ‘Hey, your gift will not be eroded because there’s going to be no tuition increase. Your gift will go completely for scholarships.’”
But other numbers Daniels presented indicate students need those scholarships. Sixty percent of Purdue undergrads assume some amount of debt before they graduate. Among those who do, the average debt load for a four-year degree exceeds $27,000 per student, which is a couple thousand dollars above the national average.