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Why tuition & fees keep increasing

Embracing a request by Indiana Governor Joe Kernan of the state's public universities and colleges, the Purdue Board of Trustees at its April 9 meeting acted to limit fee increases to 4 percent at all Purdue campuses for the 2004-05 academic year.

In recent years, despite our sluggish economy, annual fee increases at America's higher education institutions have exceeded the inflation rate. I often am asked, "Why?"

The simple answer is that the proportion of the cost of education public universities such as Purdue and Purdue University Calumet receive from the state continues to decline. To make up the shortfall, universities have increased tuition and other fees. Nearly two decades ago, some two-thirds of the cost of educating a Purdue Calumet student came from state dollars. Today, state support has eroded to less than 50 cents per dollar. But that reality does not answer the related question: "Why don't colleges and universities tighten their belts like other institutions?"

Actually, higher education has tightened its belt. At Purdue Calumet, each of our units has trimmed its operating budget. But there are areas that cannot, nor must not be cut. The business of managing higher education is costly, because, as Purdue President Martin Jischke recently expressed, "universities are people-intensive and technology-intensive."

Attracting and retaining top-flight faculty and staff demands that salaries and benefit packages be competitive. As for technology, the students we teach and the employers who hire them as graduates demand and deserve the most up to date technological resources-costly resources that help prepare our students for our society's challenging jobs and careers.

So while colleges and universities can and do cut costs, increasing fees in lieu of declining state support is our way of preserving educational quality.

Sincerely,

Howard Cohen
Chancellor



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