Governor outlines plan for higher education access and affordability

INDIANAPOLIS  – At a higher education conference today, Governor Mitch Daniels outlined his goal to make higher education more affordable and accessible for Hoosier students and their families. The governor told college and university trustees, faculty and administrators attending a Commission for Higher Education conference that he wants to assure that Indiana high school graduates are guaranteed two years of paid tuition at Ivy Tech Community College (approximately $3,000 per year) or an equivalent amount to attend another Indiana college or university.

Such an opportunity would be available to families earning up to the state’s median income, which is about $54,000 annually, and possibly beyond depending on the source and amount of funding that can be assembled for the program, either through new revenue sources or from moving funds from other programs that are not achieving results.

The governor also challenged the state’s colleges and universities to consider their own participation in the effort to ensure that the tuition amounts the state provides remain affordable. Ivy Tech, for example, has committed to hold future tuition increases to the rate of inflation.

“We must elevate quickly the number of our young people who pursue education beyond high school. The careers of tomorrow will almost all require training beyond that available in high school today. It is our job to see these students are ready in greater numbers,” said Daniels.

“I believe that if we can address the affordability issue, if we can say to every Indiana high school kid that if you graduate from high school, we will provide you the wherewithal to go to our community college, or, it’s your choice and your family’s choice to have that as a head start on any other school,” he said.

The governor invited higher education leaders to offer input and ideas for the concept over the next several weeks.

Background information

• 651,609 Hoosiers completed high school but have no college education (February 2008 Indiana Chamber of Commerce report Indiana’s Adult Education and Workforce Skills Performance)

• 524,029 Hoosiers have not completed high school (or equivalent) (Chamber report)

• Indiana ranks 44th among states for share of population over age 25 with a bachelor’s degree (Chamber report)

• Indiana ranks 41st among states for share of working-age adults with an associate degree or higher (Chamber report)

• Indiana lags the nation in first-year retention rates at public two-year colleges with only 49 percent staying in school (Chamber report)

• Approximately two-thirds of all students borrow money to pay for college. The average debt load for a student graduating with a bachelor’s degree has climbed to $20,000 up from $9,000 in 1993 (Commission for Higher Education, March 14, 2008, “Reaching Higher with Affordability”)

• Over the last 10 years (1997 to 2007) tuition at Indiana’s public four-year universities has risen an average of 105 percent – over the same period Hoosiers personal income grew by 44.2 percent and CPI (inflation rate) grew by 29 percent (Commission for Higher Education)

• 69 percent of Indiana high school juniors from families without a college graduate in the household and 40 percent with a college graduate in the household did not think they could afford to go to college (Commission for Higher Education)

Opportunities for Hoosiers

• Each year of education beyond high school enables an individual to increase annual earnings by 10 percent.

• Better education leads to better jobs. Forty-four of the state’s 50 “Hoosier Hot Jobs” in greatest demand require an education beyond high school

• The Indiana Department of Workforce Development estimates that by 2014 there will be an additional 222,410 high-wage, high-demand Indiana jobs requiring a post-secondary degree.

• According to the 2007 Kauffman State New Economy Index, Indiana ranks 16th among the states for the “fastest-growing firms,” but ranks 43rd for workforce education level.

Audio of the governor’s comments may be found at this link:

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