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Mitch Daniels: Criticism Misses the Mark on Purdue Tuition and Student Loans

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Sept. 14, 2022 10:37 am ET

The football stadium at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., May 16, 2019.


Walter G Arce Sr Grindstone Medi/Zuma Press

In his letter (Sept. 12) responding to my op-ed (“Student Loans and the National Debt,” Sept. 2), Walter Kimbrough alleged that Purdue’s near-perfect record of graduates repaying their student loans is due not to their character but to their “wealth” and “privilege.” But if our students were really so rich, they wouldn’t have borrowed in the first place.

The biggest reason they honor their obligations is that they were more likely to study, rigorously, in a discipline valued in the marketplace. More than two-thirds of today’s Boilermakers graduate with a STEM-related degree, and many others are in fields like hospitality or supply-chain management. The average 2021 graduate started at a salary of $62,452.

mr. Kimbrough castigates me for the growth in out-of-state students at Purdue, but that has occurred alongside an all-time record in the number of their Indiana classmates. Meanwhile, we have sharply reduced the percentage of international students on our campus. Purdue is responding to the urgent calls for more American engineers and technologists.

Even if it were valid, the criticism wouldn’t mean that Purdue should have raised its tuition steadily, as schools like those Mr. Kimbrough led do. Nor would it justify the unfair, fiscally indefensible and antidemocratic policy of federal debt “cancellation.”

Mitch Daniels

President, Purdue University

West Lafayette, Ind.

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Appeared in the September 15, 2022, print edition as ‘Criticism Misses Mark on Purdue’s Students.’


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