Purdue cost rises as state funding slides

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – College affordability has recently come into question as tuition at private and public schools continues to rise. Recently, Purdue University froze tuition for a third straight year. However, cost remains a concern at Purdue, especially if tuition rises significantly once the freeze is lifted.

Nationally, average in-state tuition in today’s money at a four-year public university has risen from $8,416 to in 1973-74 to $18,391 in 2013-14, according to The College Board.

In 1981, Purdue in-state tuition was $2,849 in today’s money. Today, Purdue in-state tuition is $9,992.

For decades, the state has paid a large percentage of Purdue’s annual operating cost. While today’s financial contribution from the state is still considerable—$244,792,248 for 2013-14—it accounts for less of a percent of Purdue’s budget than it did in the past.

“Somewhere about five years or so ago, we sort of had the crossing of that line on the graph where the state allocations are paying a lesser percent of our cost and tuition and other revenues are paying more,” said Ted Malone, Purdue’s executive director of financial aid.

State allocations to higher education typically rise and fall with the economy. However, state allocations are unable to keep pace with school budgets. In an effort to cut costs, Purdue has recently reduced the number of raises it gives to faculty and staff, Malone said. According to Purdue President Mitch Daniels, the school will continue to focus on many ways to cut costs.

“The research says that the number one driver of public college tuition and fee increases is declining state funding for higher education as a percentage of revenue,” Michael Dannenberg said. Dannenberg is the director of higher education finance policy for The Education Trust.

On December 3, Dannenberg testified about Pell Grants and other college affordability issues before the House Higher Education and Workforce Training. The subcommittee has two Indiana lawmakers on it, Rep. Luke Messer (R-District 6) and Rep. Susan Brooks (R-District 5).

Though in-state tuition at Purdue has doubled in the past 20 years, Indiana is funding higher education well compared to other states.

“Well some people missed it, but Indiana was in the very top tier in protecting higher ed funding,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels.

Before becoming president of Purdue, Daniels was governor of Indiana from 2004 to 2012. His claim is backed up by data from The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington D.C. policy group that focuses on low and middle-income Americans.

Over the last five years, 48 states have reduced funding for higher education. Indiana has cut less per student than 42 of those states. The state cut 17.5 percent in spending per student from 2008-13. To compare, Ohio cut 28.9 percent and Michigan cut 32.4 percent.

Despite this moderate drop in funding compared to neighboring states, Purdue students who graduate with debt owe $24,056, according to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

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