The Indianapolis Star
Indiana University’s move to freeze tuition for juniors and seniors who are on track to graduate is a creative and welcome attempt to confront a problem that is overwhelming more and more students, not only in Indiana but across the nation.
In 2010, the most recent year in which data is available, IU graduates left Bloomington with an average debt of more than $27,000 from student loans. Such numbers might be manageable for new graduates in a few high-income professions, but for first-year teachers or social workers, the need to repay debt can be a crushing obligation.
IU’s decision won’t solve that problem entirely, of course. But it should help, and it’s the second such policy IU had adopted in recent years. Earlier, the university approved a steep discount on summer school tuition.
Both moves also provide students with a strong financial incentive to stay on course to graduate within four years. That’s important not only for financial reasons but also because it improves the odds that a student will eventually earn a degree.
Unfortunately, other public universities in the state have expressed hesitancy about following IU’s lead. Administrators from Ball State, Purdue and Indiana State say they have no plans to freeze tuition. Private schools such as Butler and Notre Dame also aren’t on board.
Some critics of IU’s new policy have dismissed it as a gimmick or “publicity stunt.” But it should be seen more as a good faith effort to address a complex challenge that few, if any, universities have been able to fully solve.
It also should be noted that IU and other state universities have been prodded in recent years by prominent state Sen. Luke Kenley and other legislators to be more aggressive in slowing the rise in tuition. This policy should please those lawmakers, who in a few months will vote on a two-year budget that helps fund state universities.
So bring on the freeze. And may the idea spread well beyond Showalter Fountain and Dunn Meadow.
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