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Indiana’s college completion rate increases, fewer choosing higher education

The percentage of graduating high school seniors in Indiana going to college declined 12 percentage points in the last five years, according to a report from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

However, the on-time completion rate for college graduates increased 11 percentage points during the last five years, according to the “Indiana College Completion Report 2022” released earlier this month. Forty-five percent of Indiana’s college students graduate on time and about 66% graduate in six years.

“Credit is due to progress made by Indiana’s public institutions in moving the needle on student completion, as well as Indiana’s lawmakers, who have prioritized higher education funding to drive desired outcomes,” the report states. “For nearly two decades, Indiana has embraced a performance funding formula for public institutions that rewards colleges for improving student outcomes. The formula includes financial incentives to reward and support institutions’ efforts at graduating more of their students – and graduating more of them on time.”

The report estimates each class of public college graduates contributes $13 billion or more in spending and tax revenue to the state’s economy.

“Indiana’s economy depends on and thrives with an educated society,” the report said. “Yet Indiana’s educational attainment is not close enough to where it needs to be. Employers are already struggling to find skilled talent. That search will only become more difficult if we do not increase the number of Hoosiers with the skills and training they need.”

The 33-page report gave several recommendations to deal with the cost and quality of a college education, support for students and preparing students for college. It recommended a 35% increase in funding for Frank O’Bannon Grants, a needs-based financial aid award. The program was cut in 2008-09 during the economic recession and the increase accounts for inflation since the reduction.

The report recommends a goal of quadrupling the number of high school seniors earning 30 college general education credits, the Indiana College Core, by 2028. Currently, approximately 1,800 students meet the standard. The Commission recommends teachers take advantage of free credentialing opportunities to teach early college credit and provide financial incentives for teachers to provide dual credits.

The Commission recommends incentives for the state’s higher education institutions to continue contributing to Indiana’s economic prosperity. Indiana’s performance formula currently rewards colleges when students graduate within required timeframes and with degrees in “high-impact fields like science and engineering.”

This article originally appeared on The Center Square.

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