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From the Dean

A 'valuable' lesson
A clear memory from my formative years is of my parents teaching me about money, value and investments. Knowing that anything Disney would catch my eye, they purchased a handful of Disney stocks, letting me know they were for me, not them.

Each year, when Disney’s annual report landed in our mailbox, Dad would sit me down at the kitchen table and walk me through it — how the company performed, what they valued, their prospects for the future. Reviewing a prospectus as a 10-year-old certainly wasn’t as magical as my other Disney experiences, but it probably was more valuable.

As many high school seniors make final decisions about their colleges of choice, I’m reminded of lessons learned at the kitchen table. Just as my parents planned for their Disney investment to pay off in the long term, many families are making college decisions based on value — the return on investment for their student.

College costs — a historical perspective
Decades ago, public support as a percentage of the nation’s college investment was at an all-time high. We recognized that a well-educated workforce would lead the country into prosperity and a position of global strength, and the GI Bill and the civil rights movement opened college gates to students from all walks of life. Higher education was no longer for the privileged few.

However, as more Americans pursued college degrees, historical funding models became unsustainable. University budgets became more and more dependent on student tuition and fees. That trend continues today.

There is good news, though — both nationally and at Purdue. Not only does higher education remain one of the best investments an individual can make, Purdue’s laser-like focus on value and return on investment is at an all-time high.

Big pictures and blue skies
Early in his tenure as Purdue’s president, Mitch Daniels recommended (and the board approved) a two-year freeze on tuition. The upcoming academic year will be the second of those two years and the president will recommend extending the freeze through at least 2015-16. In addition, we’ve reduced room and board costs, effectively reducing the cost of a Purdue degree.

Simultaneously, the University continues to improve the overall student experience and the value of a Purdue degree.

For example:

Rigor, support and a little something extra
There’s no doubt that Purdue students work hard. A college education isn’t valuable if it isn’t earned. But we don’t expect them to go it alone and we make sure there are plenty of extras for those who need them or want them.

Cost vs. investment
My point is this. As college budgets continue to depend on tuition, high school students and their families may need reminders that higher education remains one of the best investments they can make. Not every college will be affordable for every family, but value and return on investment need to be part of the kitchen table conversation.

Pamela T. Horne

Pam Horne

Facts on File
  • More than 2,000 undergraduate research projects
  • #25 Best campus food according to the Daily Meal
  • Purdue ranks fourth in preparing students for the workforce
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