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5/12/2017 6:48:00 PM
Indiana State proposes 1.9 percent tuition/fee increase for next two years

Sue Loughlin, Tribune-Star

Indiana State University will propose a 1.9 percent increase in tuition/mandatory fees for the next two years, despite the Indiana Commission for Higher Education recommending public colleges hold those increases flat and no more than a 1.4 percent increase each year.

The reason, says ISU President Dan Bradley, is "because costs are accelerating faster than the 1.4 percent."

ISU's state appropriation is being cut $774,754 for next year, and for budget purposes, it is being conservative and assuming no enrollment increase this fall based on the average of the last two years. 

Even with  a 1.9 percent anticipated tuition increase for 2017-18, ISU still must re-allocate more than $1 million from the general fund, which means "a cut from one part of the university budget to help fund another part," Bradley said after a meeting of the ISU trustees finance committee this morning.

The re-allocation is necessary to balance the budget for next year, he said.

By law, public colleges must conduct hearings on proposed tuition increases, and Indiana State's is set for 1:30 p.m. June 7 in the State Room of Tirey Hall. The board will be asked to adopt the tuition increases at its June 23 meeting.

The university is hoping it can "get back on the enrollment growth curve ... we've been able to avoid big tuition increases because of our growth," Bradley said.

This fall, freshmen enrollment is "looking good, but we're worried about international enrollment with all the turmoil in Washington," Bradley said. "I will be amazed if international enrollment doesn't go down," particularly from Middle Eastern countries.

In future years, if enrollment stays flat, ISU will have to slowly decrease the number of employees, at least on a per student basis, he said.

 "We have to fundamentally figure out how to do more with less," he said during the trustee finance committee meeting.

Bradley also said, "We've reached the point where tuition can't grow any faster than inflation ... without pricing our students out of the market." 

Diann McKee, senior vice president of finance and administration, pointed out that over the past 10 years, ISU's increases in tuition/mandatory fees have been less than the other major residential campuses, IU Bloomington, Purdue, West Lafayette and Ball State.

According to ISU's web site, its undergraduate tuition for 2016-17 (both semesters) was $8,546.

On Thursday, the state Commission for Higher Education adopted a recommendation calling on the state’s public colleges and universities to hold annual increases in undergraduate tuition and mandatory fees flat but no more than 1.4 percent in each of the next two years.

“Indiana’s recent tuition increases are the lowest in nearly three decades and among the lowest in the nation,” said Teresa Lubbers, Commissioner for Higher Education. “Our latest tuition recommendations aim to continue this trend to ensure college is affordable for Hoosier students and families.”

The Commission is charged by state law with recommending non-binding tuition and mandatory fee targets every two years for each of Indiana’s public colleges. Final authority for setting tuition rests with each college’s board of trustees.

Also under state law, Indiana colleges must hold a public hearing no later than 30 days after the commission sets its non-binding tuition and  fee targets. Tuition and mandatory fee rates for the next two academic years must be set by the institutions no later than 60 days after enactment of the state budget.

Related Stories:
• Ball State University to OK lowest tuition hike in 4 decades
• Purdue tuition and fees to drop below $10,000 annually
• Ball State University says tuition hike no bait and switch
• USI tuition increases by more than $700 over next 2 years

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