"We're saying look, be a little more sensitive, be efficient in how you operate and hold down the cost to kids and their families," said Representative Jeff Espich (R-Disrict 82) who chairs the Budget Committee.
"We're here to talk about college affordability," said Teresa Lubbers, Indiana's Commissioner for Higher Education. "We want to make sure Hoosiers can afford to go to college at a time when we're telling all of them they need to."
The commission recommended Indiana University- Bloomington stick to a 3.5 percent increase. IU President Michael McRobbie said that tution did only increase 3.5 percent. However, the university tacked on a mandatory Repair and Rehabilitation fee that brought the total increase to 5.5 percent.
McRobbie explained to the committee that 75 percent of students receive some sort of financial aid and that a decrease in state funding has led them to turn to students to fund projects and maintenance. Indiana University's other regional campuses also went above their recommended 2.5 percent increase.
"This year we have more than 110,000 students enrolled, a new record. People continue to flock to Indiana University for their education. We aren't seeing any signs of that tapering off. People still value an IU education, understandably so, considering how low the cost, on average is," McRobbie said.
He went on to explain that through financial aid, the average student pays close to $2,255, much lower than the tuition fees which are listed closer to $9,000.
Senator Luke Kenley (R-District 20) told McRobbie those numbers did not accurately reflect the burden of the tuition increase on students and their families.
IUPUI increased tuition by 4.4 percent, above the recommended 2.5 percent. Students on campus said they worry most about loan debt when they graduate.
"I have concern that if i don't find a job six months after I graduate that I will be stuck with tons of debt that I can't pay," said student Derrek Bertrand.
According to the State Budget Committee's research, Indiana students carry more debt than students in surrounding states. The average student loan debt in Indiana is $24,487 when a student leaves a four year public university.
Not all schools got scolded. Ivy Tech was touted as one of the most affordable public universities in the state. The school stayed within the commission's recommended 3.0 percent increase.
Chairman Espich said he hopes Thursday's discussion will lead to a greater sense of accountability for the Universities and will encourage them to more closely follow the Commission on Higher Education's recommendations in the future.
The commission will put out recommendations for the 2013-2014 academic year at the end of the next legislative session.