A bold plan by State Rep. Earl Harris, Jr. (D-East Chicago) to curb the rising costs of pursuing a higher education in Indiana was rejected today by House Republicans.
Harris introduced a proposal that would have locked in tuition rates for students attending any public university in Indiana at the levels they paid their freshman year, effective starting in the 2019-2020 academic year. House Republicans defeated the proposal, which was offered to Senate Bill 216.
“The level of complaints about the cost of attending college is matched by the unwillingness of lawmakers to do anything about it,” Harris said. “The chief barrier to pursuing a college education is the cost of it. It is time that we start doing something to address these concerns, before our young people decide that going to college isn’t worth the expense.”
The proposal would have affected students attending Ball State, Indiana, Indiana State, Ivy Tech, Purdue, Southern Indiana, and Vincennes.
“Here’s how it would have worked,” Harris said. “If the tuition for your first year at a public university is $5,000, then it will remain at that level for the entire time you attend that university, even if that university increases tuition in the next few years. To qualify, an undergraduate student must remain enrolled at the university and stay on track to graduate in a timely fashion.
“Workforce development and continuing education has been a focus of mine even before I was elected to the Indiana House,” he added. “I spent many years as an administrator for a school system, which included mentoring and encouraging students to continue their education after high school.
“We know the importance of a post-high school education – whether it is a certificate, or a 2-year or 4-year degree,” Harris said. “When students further their education, it adds great value to their future and the future of our state. We also know that the cost of pursuing a college degree can be quite prohibitive, leaving many Hoosier students with $30,000 in debt. My proposal would have been a key step in providing some measure of debt relief for students. The issues that are raised here cannot be ignored and I will continue to make sure they are debate through the rest of this legislative session and in years to come.”