Preparing for tomorrow

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College might seem far off for those students just entering high school, but it is never too early to start planning. Students are back in classrooms now, some earlier than before with the new balanced calendar. It is an exciting time of the year, full of new beginnings and opportunities for our community’s youngest and brightest minds. Before we all know it, this year’s freshman will be graduating and entering the next chapter in their lives.

Obtaining a postsecondary degree at a two- or four-year college or getting the necessary training to pursue a trade profession is critical in today’s marketplace. A high school diploma is a basic requirement for any job opportunity. Hoosier students and families know this and work hard to succeed in school. However, the process of looking toward what options are available after high school can be intimidating.

The Legislature is working to make higher education a more appealing option for young Hoosiers by making each step – applying to different schools, securing financial aid, preparing to attend a new institution, etc. – easier to understand and realize.

The affordability of college is always a concern for students and parents. Some major, private lenders have even withdrawn from the student loan market, limiting funding options. To address this issue, the Indiana Secondary Market for Education Loans Corp. was created and now is permitted to become a direct lender of postsecondary education loans for the purpose of attending both Indiana and non-Indiana institutions.

This Indiana-based student loan program will help improve financial literacy amongst college students and at the same time provide fixed rate loans to Indiana students who may not be able to otherwise fund their education.

Access to higher education should be more readily available to more people. We are putting more tools in place for Hoosiers to be able to obtain a degree or certification, so they can get a job and realize their American dream. It is paramount that the process to go to a college or university be easier to navigate and that funding be available to those who qualify and need it.

Another change we made last session was to simplify how credits are transferred between different higher education institutions. Transferring credits can pose a problem not only from one institution to another but also from a regional campus to a main campus within the same institution.

By creating a common course numbering system within all of our state colleges, we are working to make it easier for students who have completed courses at one college to receive credit at another. This will reduce the amount of time that it takes for some students to complete college as well as save them money.

Both of these new laws are improving postsecondary education for Hoosiers. By working together, Indiana can realize its goal of having 60-percent degree attainment by 2025. It starts with being prepared and thinking about what’s ahead.

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