Well, Mitch Daniels, take a walk through campus. Bask in the smiles, knowing nods and high fives. Yes, you froze tuition for the next two years on Purdue University’s West Lafayette campus. You, sir, have earned a walk as president among grateful subjects.
That’s right. On Friday, Daniels announced that students on Purdue’s main campus would see the same base tuition rate — $9,900 a year for Indiana residents — that they’re paying this school year. (Student rates still will include an additional $92 a year that students approved several years ago to finance the new student rec center.)
In real money, a freeze would save Purdue students $445 — based on a 4.5 percent increase — next year. In other words, about one-third of the $1,370 Purdue figures students need for books and materials each year, according to the Purdue Data Digest.
“In this period of national economic stagnation, it’s time for us to hit the pause button on tuition increases,” Daniels said. “We will fit our spending to their budgets - not the other way around.”
It would be totally fake to feign surprise. Given Daniels’ frequent complaints about the increasing costs of a college education and his promises to make some noise at Purdue – not to mention in higher education nationally — holding the line on tuition for the next two years isn’t straying much.
That is, that isn’t straying much for the former governor.
For Purdue, where tuition has gone up every year since 1976 — and has roughly doubled in the past dozen years – past mentions of carrying one year’s amount over to the next year has been roundly scoffed. Greater tuition meant more resource which meant a more valuable degree. Or so the logic went.
What makes Daniels’ proclamation all the more powerful is the timing of the thing. Generally tuition increases wait until after the Indiana General Assembly finishes work on the next two-year state budget. That meant students often were gone for the summer when the next round of tuition increases were settled.
So it’s a bit of a leap of faith for Daniels and Purdue, locking into this year’s rates for the next two years without a guarantee of state funding.
For that leap, give it up for Daniels.