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Student Body Pres. Questions Tuition, Fee Hikes At Meeting

A special trustee meeting Tuesday at IUPUI sought public comment on a proposed 3.5% increase in tuition during the next two years, as well as on creation of a fee designed to rehab IU’s 900 buildings.  But IU Bloomington student body president Justin Kingsolver called the new repair and maintenance fee a gimmick.

“At least in my assessment of it, it’s kind of a just a creative accounting method for how to circumvent the Committee for Higher Education’s recommendation [on tuition and fees],” Kingsolver said.

IU President Michael McRobbie called the fee long overdue, and Chief Financial Officer Neil Theobald said the cash would be sequestered only for building projects and would help IU raise money for a number of new ventures, including an additional chilling system which would allow the Bloomington campus to air condition all its buildings simultaneously on hot days.

Theobald said the tuition increases are necessary to keep faculty from being poached by private schools whose finances have rebounded following the recession.

“Salary’s a big issue,” Theobald said. “Private universities – we’re losing faculty to Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Emory, Northwestern – their endowments are way up, so they’re able to offer salaries that we simply can’t match.”

Despite an in-state student cost increase of 5.5% in the coming year and 5.4% the following year when all fees are included, Theobald says the average out-of-pocket cost will decrease 20%, thanks to more scholarships and grant funding.  Still,  Kingsolver said he’s worried about what he’s getting for his money, even if he’s paying less.

“If we are raising tuition and cutting costs, then we’re providing arguably a less high quality education and charging someone more for it.  I mean, none of you would pay a new car price for a 2009 car.”

Out-of-state students will see their charges increased more than six-and-a-half percent each of the next two years, when all fees are included.  The tuition and fee schedule will be included in the university’s budget proposal, which goes to the trustees in June.

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