Indiana Official Tells Congress That State Is ‘Ripe’ For Higher Ed Reform

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The state’s higher education chief told a Congressional committee Wednesday that Indiana’s college and university system is “ripe for reform.” 

“The state currently ranks 40th in the nation in post-secondary attainment,” Indiana Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers testified during an appearance before the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training.

“Capitalizing on that need to reform,” she said, the state has adopted a new strategic plan. “Ultimately, our goal is quite straightforward:  To ensure that more students complete postsecondary credentials on time and at the lowest possible cost.”

But Lubbers acknowledged the state has done no better in recent years than others in controlling tuition and other college costs.

College tuition in Indiana has increased by nearly 100 percent over the past decade, while Hoosier per-capita personal income has grown by only 27 percent, Lubbers said. Also, Hoosier students borrow an average of $27,000 to finance a college degree and the state’s student loan default rate has increased by 35 percent over the past three years, she said.

Lubbers joined former Indiana Higher Education Commissioner Stan Jones – who now leads the nonprofit group Complete College America – in her appearance at the Capitol, where the committee is looking at ways to control college costs.

The committee was chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina, who said that states should lead in the area of education, as opposed to the federal government.

“Our education problems cannot be solved by Washington bureaucrats who work as puppet masters,” Foxx said.

Lubbers told lawmakers that’s just what Indiana is trying to do.

The Indiana General Assembly has given the higher ed commission more authority to oversee how many credits universities require for majors and ordered the agency to issue tuition guidelines each year, she said.

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