People flocked to public colleges because of the recession, but state budget cuts are threatening the quality of education they provide.
After two years of budget cuts, the Indiana General Assembly flat-lined most aid to higher education this year, while stripping out money for repair and rehabilitation of buildings.
"So they are telling us OK you are doing a great job, you have high enrollments, so we'll cut your budget and you can't raise tuition," Donald Coffin said. "Well you can't educate students for free."
The cuts started in 2009 as Gov. Mitch Daniels cut $150 million from higher education budgets in an attempt to stabilize the state's dire fiscal situation. More cuts followed and overall higher education has suffered about a 6 percent cut in state aid.
Private colleges with recognizable brands are in a better position, relying on generally much higher tuition rates and endowments for funding, Coffin said.