A first of its kind report from the state aims to reduce cost barriers for Hoosiers interested in college. It highlights state financial aid options and their impact, and makes recommendations for schools to better support students.
The report says roughly 57 percent of Hoosier students take out college loans, and the average debt for graduates is just under $30,000.
But college enrollment has been on the decline, and Allison Kuehr with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education said for most people, the financial toll remains their top concern.
"Cost, whether it's the perception or the reality, was the number one factor," Kuehr said.
Kuehr said the report provides families with critical information about financial aid options and compares costs at different schools across Indiana. It also makes recommendations focused on how schools – and the state – can improve affordability. According to CHE, Indiana's funding for colleges and universities ranks 41st in the country.
Sean Tierney, CHE's associate commissioner of policy and research, said state funding for colleges supports their community operations, construction, and research – and helps avoid raising costs for individual students.
"So when they invest those funds, those go into some of the things that tuition and fees don't cover, or they help make sure that institutions can keep tuition fees low," he said.
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That's why he said it's important for lawmakers to consider how Indiana can keep pace as other states increase their spending on colleges, and financial aid options for students.
But the report also makes recommendations for schools to reduce cost barriers for students too: like providing more support for things like food, housing, and child care; and offering more financial aid support for first-generation college students.
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