Indiana University students who are doing well as sophomores won't have to worry about their tuition rising.
IU President Michael McRobbie announced Tuesday in the annual State of the University address at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis students who are in good academic standing as sophomores and on track to graduate in four years will not have their tuition increase as juniors or seniors -- they'll receive an award to offset any tuition hikes.
"We will in effect freeze tuition costs for all our students after their sophomore years provided they have completed a sufficient course load to allow them to graduate on time," McRobbie said, adding "If they do not graduate within four years, then they will pay the current campus tuition and fee rates in subsequent semesters."
The award would be available beginning in the 2013 fall semester. McRobbie said he'll also recommend faculty create an online class that would be required for students receiving financial aid to teach financial literacy, the Indianapolis Star reports.
It's an effort to tackle student debt among IU students, which carry on average $21,000 to nearly $30,000 in debt by the time they graduate, depending on which campus they attend. The Project on Student Debt ranks the state as a whole at 8th nationally for how much debt their graduates carry.
"This initiative will, though, be regarded as an experiment," McRobbie said. "And we will assess its impact on four-year graduation rates during the 2015-16 academic year."
Indiana State, Purdue, Butler and Notre Dame all said they do not have plans for any tuition freezes. Ball State University offers a $500 scholarship credited to a student’s last semester if they are on track to graduate in four years, and have made their summer and online courses less expensive, according to the BSU Daily News.
“The main goal is to hold down costs and to help our students graduate on time and our admissions have been strong,” Randy Howard, vice president of Business Affairs, told the Daily News. “I think we have heard the message that affordability and cost is a major determiner in where they choose to go to school.”
Some remain skeptical this will have any real impact.
“I tend to think of these being more along the lines of a publicity stunt rather than a meaningful change in college affordability,” Mark Kantrowitz, who runs FinAid.org, told the Star.
But other states are making similar efforts.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry recently called for a four-year "frozen tuition" at state colleges and universities. The University of Texas also announced a pilot program to encourage students to graduate on time, which involves forgiving a portion of a select group of students’ federal loan debt under certain conditions, according to the Alcade. The average student debt load jumps by around $5,000 for each year spent at UT past the regular four-year track.
Iowa's and Montana's public universities are also weighing a tuition freeze for next year, and Iowa may even lower its tuition.
The University of Minnesota and the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees said they would freeze tuition if certain conditions were met by their state legislatures.
The cost of college degree has been rising, increasingly 12 fold over the past 30 years. It's increasing roughly twice as fast as health care costs. A recent study by economists at the New York Federal Reserve found a direct correlation between increasing tuition and a decline in state funding at public universities.
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