In another effort to increase the number of Hoosiers with college degrees, Gov. Mitch Daniels announced a new higher education innovation grant award last week, aimed at increasing college completion rates. The stumbling block for too many students, however, remains the cost.
To their credit, state officials recognized that fact. While many state agencies and programs saw deep and painful budget cuts to help Indiana build its surplus, the appropriation for student financial aid saw a 5 percent increase.
“In this economy that was a terrific and heroic move for the legislature and governor,” said Richard Ludwick, president and CEO of Independent Colleges of Indiana.
As a result, the caps on state assistance awarded to students with financial need will hold steady for the next two years: The maximum award for a Frank O’Bannon Grant, Indiana’s primary need-based assistance program, will be $4,206 for students attending a public four-year university. For students attending an independent college, the cap is $7,584.
The news isn’t as positive as it would seem, however.
While the state has increased aid, the number of qualified students applying has dramatically increased. The caps represent a reduction of about a third from 2009 levels.