Constrained and responsible was how Purdue University administrators described a proposed tuition increase unveiled Monday.
Purdue students who will pay the freight were using different words Monday.
The plan, if approved, would raise the cost of attending West Lafayette campus by 4.5 percent for in-state students and 3.8 percent for nonresident students for each of the next two academic years.
That means, tuition would change from $9,070 this year to $9,478 in 2011-12 and $9,900 during 2012-13 for Indiana students who enrolled in summer 2009 or after. Additional fees for particular programs, courses and international students are also under consideration.
The proposal was presented during the Purdue trustees’ finance committee meeting Monday afternoon. The trustees’ executive committee will meet May 27 to hear public comments on the rates and vote whether to approve them.
Last week, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education issued a series of tuition recommendations for seven state colleges. The nonbinding tuition cap recommendation for Purdue’s West Lafayette campus ranged from zero percent to 3.5 percent.
Purdue’s proposal of 4.5 percent takes into account the Commission for Higher Education’s recommendation, plus a 1 percent increase for a fitness and wellness fee. That fee will be phased in over three years, beginning with a $91 charge for the 2011-12 academic year. It previously had been approved by students and lawmakers as a condition to pay for a $98 million expansion and renovation of the Recreational Sports Center.
Trustee Gary Lehman asked Purdue administrators whether a smaller tuition increase was considered.
“It just bothers me a little bit,” Lehman said. “We are at the upper level . It just appears that we said, ‘Thank you very much, we are going to ignore the low limit and go the maximum that you recommended.’ Did we do a sensitivity analysis? Did we ask what we could do if we went with 2.5 percent?”
Al Diaz, Purdue’s treasurer, said 2.5 percent would cut into an already tight university budget. The campus will lose $14.5 million of state operating funds during the next two years, based on the 2011-13 state spending plan.
Córdova said the 3.5 percent increase has been discussed in detail with lawmakers and the Commission for Higher Education.
“They allowed us the plan that we have had for several months,” she said.
There are other increases proposed, too.
The proposal calls for a 2.5 percent tuition and fee increase at Purdue’s regional campuses. Fees for students at other Purdue campuses are assessed on a per-credit-hour basis.
Students enrolled in the College of Engineering, the university’s biggest college, will pay an additional $250 per year.
Select courses that involve lab work will come with a $50 fee per course.
The biggest increase of all goes toward undergraduate international students who will be asked to pay an additional $1,000 this fall and $2,000 per year beginning fall 2012.
Provost Tim Sands said the fee was added to cover the administrative and paperwork costs associated with international students and their course work, as well as to develop scholarships for foreign students. The revenue would also create financial assistance for study abroad programs.
In fall 2010 there was a record 3,420 international undergraduates enrolled at the West Lafayette campus.
Sands said it was unknown whether the $1,000 fee would force students who’ve accepted admission offers to cancel enrollment.
Monday, some students said they were not happy with the increase, but a few said they understood the dynamics behind raising fees.
“From a student point of view, it will always be frustrating,” said Dane Snyder, a junior physics major.
Matt Haas, a senior aeronautical engineering major, said there are other ways the university could cut funding, such as cutting back on travel for university officials.
“Enough’s enough,” Haas said, adding he’s had to pick up extra jobs to help front the costs of school.
For Molly Steiner, a senior management major, the tuition increase would not directly impact her wallet.
“Mainly,” Steiner said, “my parents deal with it.”