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Bill would add rules for Indiana financial aid

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A bill making its way through Indiana's General Assembly would change the laws governing need-based state financial aid to add more requirements for students.

Indiana's two largest grant programs would see new stipulations for credit hours that a student must successfully complete to remain eligible, The Journal Gazette reported.

Those enrolled in the 21st Century Scholars program would drop down to the Frank O'Bannon grant if they complete fewer than 30 credit hours a year. O'Bannon grant recipients who complete fewer than 24 credit hours a year could lose their scholarship.

A recent survey of 9,000 Indiana college students who are receiving state financial aid found that only half are taking enough courses to graduate in four years.

"We have to do something different to encourage kids to get in and out in four years," Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, told The Journal Gazette. "We're focusing on the kids progressing toward a degree."

Dermody is sponsoring the bill, which passed the House 77-18 and is now in the Senate.

Indiana spends about $250 million a year on the O'Bannon and 21st Century Scholars programs. More than 73,000 students are enrolled in the two programs.

The 21st Century scholars program provides full tuition and fees at public universities for students who sign up in middle school and meet certain character requirements. These grants, on average, are worth about $7,600 a year. The O'Bannon grant provides a maximum of about $3,900 a year. Both are need-based programs with income requirements.

The changes would be phased in over multiple years so current college students would not be affected.

The bill also would create incentives for students who do well. The O'Bannon grant would provide an additional $1,400 to students who graduated high school with an honors diploma. For college sophomore, juniors and seniors, the grant would award an extra $1,400 to those who earned at least a 3.0 grade-point average during the previous academic year. Students who completed 39 or more credit hours during the previous academic year also would get an additional $1,300.

Students who get a bachelor's degree in four years would receive a $1,000 bonus, which could rise to $1,500 if they graduate early. The money could go toward moving expenses for a job, a professional wardrobe or to pay down student loans, among other things.

"We hope the students will be able to stay in by changing their behavior," Mary Jane Michalak, associate commissioner of student financial aid, told The Journal Gazette. "That means completing courses. Right now, the state is paying for courses students never complete."

The bill also requires public universities to create a guide for every student that tells them what courses they need to take to graduate in four years. The bill also says universities must provide free courses if a student can't get into a class through no fault of their own.

State financial aid covers only four years' worth of classes.

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  • Financial eligibility for school is a joke in US
    Oops. Sorry, in my ranting I meant to write that you can wait a couple of years out of high school not college in Europe before you decide what to do. And some make it mandatory for civil service or army before college. That makes even more sense, especially with your troubled youths. Anyway, I simply detest our educational system.
  • Financial eligibility for school is a joke in US
    Really do you have to set stipulations on the amount parents make. Its a joke here in the US. Europe has a far better education system. They don't pay a dime for schooling. There system is based on grades. You do well in grade school/ junior high then ur promoted. If not u are sent to a trade school. This means if you can't or don't do well you won't waste your time or the teachers time in class. It sounds harsh but really, if you can't make it in lower grades you probably won't make it in college. And in Europe you still have the option of paying for college if you want to go and royally screwed up your grades somewhere before college. Its a perfect system of promotion through hard work. Also there is no time constraints. You can work or travel a couple of years after college and then decide where or what you want to do. Not like US where you better apply your senior year or end up with no or minimal scholarships when applying after you've already graduated high school. Just think. Waiting and maturing before going to college. Anyway I could go on. We really suck when it comes to college education. Why don't we hire more basketball coaches for millions instead of professors, so we all can bet money on the big ten. I guess its one way of paying for college.

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