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Money for IU Projects Restored, But Resolution Appears Temporary

State Senator Luke Kenley says he’s put a couple of Indiana University’s building projects back on the State Budget Committee’s agenda for Friday.  But Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers says the numbers Kenley used to take the projects off the agenda in the first place may be flawed.

Shortly after the Indiana Legislature decided to flatline higher education spending, the state’s Commission for Higher Education recommended public universities not use tuition and fee spikes to compensate.

“I think they recommended for Indiana University four percent and Indiana exceeded that.  Then in addition, Indiana raised the Kelly School of Business, I think it was, 15% and the Law School 25%.  So, it looks like they raised their tuition considerably more than what the commission had expected them to do,” Kenley said.

Kenley had announced he was considering keeping approval of $53 million in building projects by IU and Purdue off his committee’s agenda because he feels the schools did not fall in line with the Commission for Higher Education’s requests.

IU’s trustees voted for a 4.6% increase in tuition for the coming year and a 4.8% hike next year.  Purdue’s trustees approved a five percent price increase in each of the next two years.

Both of those figures appear above the numbers Kenley is quoting, but they’re actually below  the maximum increase the CHE and its new commissioner, former State Senator Teresa Lubbers, recommended.

In a letter dated July 9th, Lubbers indicates all colleges and universities in the state should keep tuition from going up more than five percent a year for each of the next two years. And Lubbers says those increases exclude business, music, nursing, and master’s programs.

However, according to the CH-, the cost of going to college in Indiana is rising at twice the rate of inflation, with tuition doubling every ten years.

Kenley says it’s the upward trend of tuition that really concerns him.

“I think it’s time to look at is it affordable for middle-income, middle-class families that are not what you would consider qualified in terms of need.  And what is the true cost of delivery of this education service?  Because we established the state universities as a public institutions to provide educations to our students that we hope to get a college degree,” he said.

Kenley says he is willing to compromise with IU and is confident the school and the state budget committee will come to a short-term resolution for the coming academic year.

However, Kenley says that does not mean he’ll curtail future discussions of affordability with university leaders.

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