Sunday, January 25, 2004

Bill caps yearly tuition increases

By Deanna Wrenn
The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's state-funded universities are criticizing a legislative proposal aimed at blocking sharp jumps in tuition, saying the bill could actually lead to higher instruction costs to students.

The bill would allow tuition increases for every freshman class, but returning students would not face a tuition hike of more than 3 percent.

"The idea is designed to insulate students from these sporadic and unpredictable fluctuations in the tuition rate," said bill sponsor Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville.

But universities say the plan would hurt the quality of education and could force higher tuition increases. They also say tracking each individual student's tuition would create a logistical nightmare.

Purdue President Martin Jischke said similar systems have not worked in other states. When colleges keep tuition increases small, state legislatures don't always reward them with more state funding. That results in larger tuition increases the following year to make up for the difference.

"This effort at price control really doesn't work in the long run," Jischke said.

Kenley's bill also would require colleges and universities to set tuition rates earlier. Universities say that won't work because they wait to see how much money the Legislature appropriates for them before they set rates.

Among Republican senators, however, is a feeling they need to rein in tuition and fees. Some schools have raised expenses by more than 10 percent in just one year.

"It's creating a bit of controversy, particularly among those who created the controversy, and that's our two major international institutions with their thousand dollar fee on freshmen," said Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton, referring to Indiana University and Purdue University.

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