The commission has set a goal of increasing the number of college graduates in the state. Only 33 percent of the state’s nearly 3.4 million working-age adults hold a college degree now; the state wants to push that rate to 60 percent by 2025.
But Lubbers has also promoted the message that students and their families need to be wise about how their spending their education dollars, given that the average Indiana student comes out of college with a student loan debt of more than $26,000.
“Though there is no mistaking the value of a college degree, the data clearly show that the outcome greatly depends on individual choice: where students go to school, what they study, how long it takes them to graduate and how much debt they incur,” Lubbers said. “We want to empower Hoosiers with the facts, equipping them to maximize their return on investment through purposeful planning and responsible borrowing.”
Part of what the data in the report shows is that students attending the regional campuses of Indiana University and Purdue University may be able to see a better return on their investment than students on IU and Purdue’s main campuses. According to the ROI report, graduates of Indiana University-Kokomo, for example, are averaging higher first-year salaries than most of their counterparts.
IU Kokomo Interim Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke said that’s likely due to several factors, including lower tuition costs at the regional campus and the high number of students graduating with high-demand nursing degrees. The return of advanced manufacturing plants in Kokomo has also meant more of the school’s business graduates landing well-paying jobs.
“Things are kickin’ here in Kokomo,” Sciame-Giesecke said.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence also weighed in on the ROI report: “I am pleased that our state has been able to connect education and workforce data to help Hoosiers make smart choices as they seek to improve their economic wellbeing through education and training.”
The full Return on Investment report can be accessed by going to the commission’s website at www.che.in.gov.
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at email@example.com.