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Ind. receives $1 million grant to help college graduation rates

POSTED AT 02:46 PM ON Jul. 26, 2011  (UPDATED AT 09:01 PM ON Jul. 27, 2011)

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A $1 million grant was given to Indiana to help improve the state’s college completion rate, Gov. Mitch Daniels announced Tuesday.

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through the non-profit group Complete College America, the grant will provide assistance to IU regional campuses and Ivy Tech Community College in graduating more students.

“The single biggest challenge, and therefore opportunity, in terms of the jobs future of this state is to address our shortfall in post-secondary education,” Daniels said during the announcement.

Stan Jones, president of Complete College America, said 33 states applied for the grant, but only ten were selected by the advisory committee. Out of those ten, Indiana was one of three states that was selected unanimously.

“It really is a recognition and validation of the path Indiana is on in tackling this very important issue of having more students graduate from college and raising the educational level of the workforce in the state of Indiana,” Jones said.

Jones said one of the untold stories of the recession is while people are not buying things like new houses and cars, they are buying education.  The country is seeing record enrollment, including in Indiana.

“It means that people have chosen in this difficult economic time to place their bet on higher education,” Jones said. “They have chosen to take time from their families and their jobs and what little money they have to place a bet on higher education as their way to steer through this economic uncertainty.”

But despite this record enrollment, the graduation rate remains low.

With four year programs, only one-third of students actually complete college in four years, according to the state’s commission of Higher Education.  Even after six years, only half of the students in the program graduate. Across Indiana and the country, only 25 percent of students complete 2 year programs in 3 years.

Many students never graduate at all.

“They walk away with some college and a lot of debt,” Jones said.

The proposal will focus on restructuring and remediation in order to graduate more students, and to graduate them more quickly.

Approximately $500,000 of grant will go to Ivy Tech and $250,000 will go to Indiana University regional campuses. The leftover $250,000 will remain at the state level to support the proposal.

“We trail very badly other states and we are doing as many things as we can think of to catch up quickly,” Daniels said.

— Jake New

 

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