An eyebrow-raising freeze

Published November 2016, Updated April 2017

When Purdue froze tuition in 2013, a lot of eyebrows went up.

The Wall Street Journal was among those noticing. Its article on the freeze said that to make it possible, Purdue President Mitch Daniels was “forcing his own school to modernize its 19th-century business model with a combination of systemic cuts, organizational realignments and cash incentives.”

Clearly, under Daniels, Purdue was going to do things differently. It would take razor-sharp aim at offering the highest possible educational value for the price.

And defining that value was a big part of the process. Daniels shared results of a Gallup-Purdue Index poll of 30,000 college graduates from hundreds of schools on how they defined and measured the value of their own educational experiences. By sharing the survey results, the WSJ said that Daniels was “drawing a line in the sand against which U.S. higher education can be measured.”

What? A five-year freeze isn't enough

In spring 2017, Daniels sent eyebrows up yet again. He announced that the tuition freeze would last another year — for a total of six years through the 2018-19 academic year.

“A careful review of our finances with CFO Bill Sullivan and the Board of Trustees has convinced us that we can continue our policy of tuition restraint while maintaining competitive compensation levels and an aggressive program of investment in teaching and research,” Daniels said in his March 2017 announcement.

Daniels added that Purdue is not aware of any other American university that is charging its students less to attend in 2019 than it was charging in 2012.

Since 2012, Purdue student borrowing rates have dropped by 30 percent during an era when student debt has become greater than any other category of debt in the United States other than mortgage debt. Purdue's student loan default rate of 1 percent also is significantly lower than the national average of 7.6 percent.

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