Pharos-Tribune

State News

March 9, 2014

Ivy Tech's $83M wish list meets skeptical audience

College system says funds needed to boost grad rates.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Ivy Tech Community College says it needs $83 million more from the state so it can double its enrollment and graduation rates and help the state meet its own goal of increasing the number of Indiana residents with post-high-school credentials.

But state lawmakers aren’t convinced that increasing the amount of money the community college system by that amount will pay off.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley told the Indianapolis Business Journal he wants to increase Ivy Tech’s funding so that the amount it receives per student matches what it once was. Funding per full-time equivalent fell after Ivy Tech’s enrollment surged during the recession even as state education funding was cut.

But Kenley said he isn’t certain Ivy Tech should start increasing its enrollment again before it figures out how to get more of its students to graduate.

“Ivy Tech, as they have grown, they need to show their ability to perform at this level, before we just push more kids in,” said Kenley, R-Noblesville.

Only 28 of every 100 students Ivy Tech enrolls earn a degree or transfer to a four-year school.

Ivy Tech’s leaders say the system can improve its graduation rates and help the state achieve a goal of having 60 percent of all residents with post-high-school education by 2025. But it needs additional state support to do so.

“We think it’s a good return on investment,” said Ivy Tech President Tom Snyder.

The college system has the state’s broadest network of campuses and is already set up to serve adult learners, who education leaders say will be a big part of improving the state’s post-high-school education numbers. Currently, only 34 percent of Indiana residents ages 25 to 64 have such credentials. That’s below the national average of 39 percent, according to the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation for Education.

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