Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

March 22, 2014

Project helps college students

The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — Indiana is one of only three states selected to lead a national initiative aimed at ensuring more college students graduate on time and with less debt, Gov. Mike Pence announced Feb. 11.

“Indiana faces a serious skills gap that demands bold reforms that support Hoosiers – particularly working students and returning adults – in their efforts to complete college and succeed in their chosen careers,” he said. “Today we’re charting a new path forward that equips more students to finish faster with the education and training they need to thrive in a 21st century economy.”

Called Guided Pathways to Success or GPS, the effort will combine highly structured degree programs, default course schedules and proactive advising practices that simplify choices for students and provide clearer paths to on-time graduation. Indiana’s work will be supported by a three-year grant valued at $1 million in financial and technical assistance from the Lumina Foundation for Education in partnership with Complete College America.

“Keeping students on track and on time is a key factor in increasing college attainment nationwide,” said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina Foundation’s president and chief executive officer. “That’s why we’re proud to support Complete College America as it launches the GPS program here in Indiana.”

Fewer than 5 percent of Indiana’s two-year college students and less than a third of the state’s four-year college students finish on time. By creating guided pathways, state officials believe they can help students make better choices and significantly improve their chances of graduating on time, saving students thousands of dollars in the process.

“It’s clear that too many students drift through college without a clear plan or a purposeful path to graduation, and too often leave with no degree and debt as a result,” said Indiana Higher Education commissioner Teresa Lubbers, whose agency will coordinate the GPS effort in partnership with the governor’s office, Center for Education and Career Innovation and the state’s colleges. “We are committed to working with our colleges to help close Indiana’s education attainment and skills gap through increased college completion.”

By the fall of 2016, the state anticipates that the majority of students enrolled in the largest programs of study at Indiana’s participating two- and four-year colleges will be in GPS. The project builds upon a related effort – also supported by a $1 million grant from Complete College America – that is redesigning the delivery of remediation at Ivy Tech Community College through a new co-requisite model that will be scaled statewide.

“In our efforts to ensure more students graduate from college, Indiana has become a bold national leader,” said Stan Jones, Complete College America president. “This grant strengthens those efforts and ensures Indiana students have their own GPS, a clear and timely pathway to graduation.”