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Legislation would expand Indiana college degree options

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Indiana lawmakers on the House Education Committee have unanimously approved a Senate bill designed to lower college debt and expand educational opportunities statewide.
State Sen. Jean Leising – R-Oldenburg – told the committee that she authored Senate Bill 8 to mandate state universities re-examine their degree programs, to see if they could be accomplished in less time.
“That they have to look at four-year bachelor programs and see if any of them could be completed in three years,” said Leising. “Wouldn’t it be nice for kids, like I represent in my rural counties, to be able to complete a bachelor’s degree in three years and hold down the cost of education?”
The committee introduced a few amendments to offer smaller schools more implementation flexibility, and requiring universities to disclose foreign financial gifts – including a five-year look-back period.
Leising’s bill garnered bipartisan support.
It also would create a statewide “reverse transfer” policy for Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University, to award associate degrees to eligible former and current students.
Leising said in drafting the bill, she drew from personal experiences and program successes like Indiana’s College Core – which is a block of 30 credit-hours that are transferable between all public colleges and universities in the state.
“I liked the looks of it when they first approached me, because I saw the benefits to my own granddaughter,” said Leising. “When she graduated from a small private high school with about 200 kids, and she had 37 college credits to transfer directly to Purdue with the letter grades.”
The legislation is a cornerstone of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s 2024 “Next Level Agenda,” which proponents say could revolutionize Indiana’s education landscape for students and families grappling with costs.

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