Making a World-Class Education More Affordable

Press Conference Announcing IU’s Proposed Summer Tuition Program
University Place Conference Center
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Indianapolis, Indiana
October 24, 2011

Good afternoon. I want to thank you all for being here today, and in particular I want to thank Indiana Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers for joining me on stage for this major announcement.

As you all know, we live in very challenging economic times. The prolonged economic downturn has had a significant, and in some cases severe, impact on many students seeking to earn a college degree, as well as on their families who are often paying the bills.

At the same time, the pressures on the state for the continued funding of a wide array of programs and institutions under its purview have increased substantially, forcing some difficult decisions to be made when it comes to higher education funding.

Indiana University is acutely aware of these pressures, and we have worked diligently to lower our costs by becoming more efficient, in ways large and small. We have also lowered the cost of an IU education to the majority of Hoosier students by significantly increasing the amount of scholarships and grants we provide each year.

Still, we recognize the need to do even more to help our students and to secure Indiana University’s position as a leading public research university where the concepts of earning a world-class education and affordability are not mutually exclusive.

With that goal firmly in mind, I am pleased to announce today that I will submit a plan to the Indiana University Board of Trustees at a special meeting to be held later this week that will significantly lower the cost of tuition for undergraduate students who attend summer courses at all of our seven campuses.

Under this plan, we will lower summer semester tuition for Indiana residents by 25 percent and by an equal dollar amount for non-resident undergraduate students beginning in the summer of 2012. This will save students who take a full course load several hundred dollars—or more—per summer.

Beyond that, it also helps address a persistent problem facing higher education today—namely the length of time it takes many students to earn a degree. Our plan provides a powerful incentive for more students to earn their degrees in four years—and for some in even less time.

Finally, by encouraging more students to attend class in the summer, we can make better use of our extensive and valuable facilities across the state. Currently, fewer than 40 percent of our students attend courses in the summer, meaning that many of our buildings and other facilities go largely unused.

If this plan is received as enthusiastically by our students as I believe it will be, it could make possible the creation of a robust year-round approach to education at Indiana University that is more closely aligned with the needs of a 21st century global marketplace than is the far older agrarian model upon which university calendars are currently based.

Indeed, our intent to lower tuition for summer session students is consistent with the call for enhanced academic flexibility and better use of summer sessions that were recommended in two major faculty-administration reports at Indiana University completed in the last academic year: the New Academic Directions report for the Bloomington and IUPUI campuses, and the Blueprint for Student Attainment for the IU regional campuses.

Late last year, the IU Bloomington faculty also adopted a new, longer summer session starting in 2012 to allow for more flexible and creative use of the summer period. And I will be asking the University Faculty Council at its meeting tomorrow to consider extending this initiative to all campuses. The tuition discount plan will support all of these initiatives.

The headline on our announcement today undoubtedly will be the significant savings opportunity this plan represents for our students, and we are pleased to be able to provide such relief at a time when many of our students and their families need it most.

At the same time, the plan represents a major step forward by:

  • Helping students reach their educational goals in a shorter amount of time;

  • By allowing for greater use of our facilities across the state;

  • By reducing the amount of debt some of our students will accrue while at IU;

  • And by serving the modern needs of students by providing greater flexibility within the academic calendar.

We believe that the time is due for the higher education model to change. With this step, which few—if any—other public institutions have taken, we are stepping outside the traditional boundaries that have defined U.S. higher education for two centuries.

In doing so, I am confident that not only are we meeting the immediate needs of our students, but we are also charting a course that will help us rethink what it means to be a public university in the 21st century.

Now, I would like to invite Commissioner Teresa Lubbers to the podium to say a few words.