Commission outlines goals for Indiana universities

State officials revealed a plan Friday to get more Indiana students college degrees while keeping tuition affordable.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education's initiative has three goals: Double the number of college degrees and certificates by 2025, boost on-time graduation rates to at least 50 percent at four-year schools and 25 percent at two-year schools by 2018, and increase the number of adults with post-secondary degrees increase to 60 percent by 2025.

Colleges will start this year on setting goals to increase their degree completion rate. Purdue Provost Tim Sands called the goals bold.

"If you think about doubling degree production, there is going to have to be public/private partnerships," he said. "We will need some leadership from the governor on this. It won't happen for free."

Several Indiana schools, under pressure from the Legislature, are expanding summer course offerings at reduced tuition to encourage students to complete their degrees sooner. The new initiative will require colleges to set annual targets for decreasing the average debt load for undergraduate students.

Representatives from several universities praised the plan.

"This has been an exceptionally collaborative process," said Jeff Terp, a vice president at Ivy Tech Community College. "The commission has reached out to institutions of higher ed across the state many times, meeting with presidents, meeting with staff, asking for advice and giving us the opportunity to respond to various elements of the plan."

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