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IU tuition costs below nation's

The Department of Education released a new round of statistics from its College Affordability and Transparency Center, showing IU’s tuition increases are below the national average. For average net price — tuition and fees minus average student financial aid package — IU sits just above the national average.

From the 2008-09 school year to the 2010-11 school year, the national average tuition increase for public, four-year universities is 15 percent. IU’s tuition and fees increase in that time period was 9.7 percent.

The average net price percent increase for public four-year universities was 4.6 percent, with IU’s increase at 5 percent.

IU spokesperson Mark Land said tuition is one of three basic University funding sources, along with grants and private donations and state funding.

“When a major (source) like state funding is shrinking, we’ve got to look to make it up where we can, which is why you see increases on the tuition side of it,” Land said.

While careful not to blame the state legislature for tougher financial times, he noted state funding for IU has gone down steadily in the past decade, intensifying after the 2008 recession. During the past three years, he said, $35 million has been cut from IU’s budget.

However, Land said, private funding support is still going strong.

“We’ve also been fortunate that we have an outstanding alumni base who really supported the University in terms of grants and donations,” he said.

For average tuition price increase, IU ties with University of Nebraska for seventh out of 12 schools in the Big Ten tuition increase rankings.

While no Big Ten schools make the list of the top 20 largest percentage tuition increases, large state schools like University of Georgia and University of Arizona make the list, weighing in at 49 and 45 percent, respectively.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education sets recommended tuition increase caps yearly. IU increased tuition by 5 percent for the 2011-12 school year, and Land said the 2012-13 school year increase will be 3.5 percent.

“We, like everybody else, we’re trying to meet their recommendations as well,” Land said. “We’ve done a good job, I think.”

Land said administrators and the Board of Trustees have to, among other things, take into account maintenance costs and employee pay raises. Because of budget cuts two years ago, IU employees didn’t receive pay raises. The average IU employee pay raise for the 2012-13 school year will be 2.2 percent, Land said.

“Just keeping the roofs from leaking and the heating systems working and making renovations is a very expensive proposition,” Land said.

Land said IU administrators do look at what other similar schools are charging for tuition.

“We are aware of what others are charging,” Land said. “We are aware of where we stand, and we tend to compare ourself against similar types of schools.”

A Chronicle of Higher Education article pointed out that the College Affordability and Transparency Center’s statistics are designed to not only help families access college costs easily, but also point clearly to schools making big changes to tuition and net price.

“I wouldn’t say we’re being shamed into doing anything, but we are trying our best to do what’s fair,” Land said.

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