Highlighting Hoosier colleges and universities

Rep. Randy FryeGuest Columnist

While the school year may have just begun, this also means crunch time for many high school seniors who are contemplating the next step in life. Will they decide to further their education, or will they enter the workforce right out of high school? If they chose the former, what will their major be? Will they stay in Indiana, or will they move further away from home?

These are all legitimate questions that many students face. In the past, students often stayed close to home while pursuing a post-secondary education, however it has become increasingly common for students to go across the country in search of a promising future. I would argue though, that the future right here in Indiana is blindingly bright, and I want our high school students and their parents to know all that Indiana offers.

On Wednesday, the U.S. News and World Report released ratings for nearly 1,800 schools across the country. The ratings were based on factors such as academic quality, value and range of programs. On this list, several Indiana colleges and universities were ranked among the best in the nation.

For the eighth straight year, Taylor University in Upland was ranked the number one Midwest University in the category of Best Regional Colleges. IU Bloomington was ranked 30th on the list of top public national universities and Purdue University was ranked 20th.

Ivy Tech Southeast, another school that is producing positive results, is located right here in our own backyard. Ivy Tech is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and again this year, Community College Week has ranked them first among two-year institutions nationwide for the number of associates degrees awarded.

This year, I had the opportunity to speak at Ivy Tech Southeast’s commencement ceremony and was able to see firsthand how they help prepare students for the opportunities of tomorrow, enhance our local communities and strengthen our overall state economy. Ivy Tech is also one of the most affordable options for college in Indiana.

Having had children go through the college decision process myself, I know that affordability is an extremely important factor to both students and parents. Luckily, Indiana also offers opportunities to help ease the financial burden that post-secondary education can pose.

For example, Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars is a needs and performance-based program that provides students the opportunity to earn up to a four-year scholarship to an Indiana college or university. Indiana students who meet specific income requirements can enroll in the program during their 7th or 8th grade year. In order to be eligible, they must commit to maintaining academic success, remaining drug and alcohol free and completing college-preparation activities.

In addition to the 21st Century Scholars program, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (CHE) also oversees the Frank O’Bannon Higher Education Award which is a grant awarded to Indiana residents that can be used to pay tuition and fees. CHE determines the amount of the award, and students may receive awards for four academic years, if they demonstrate financial need.

Whether students decide to go straight into the workforce, pursue a four-year liberal arts education or go after a two-year technical degree, I want them to have a solid understanding of the incredible opportunities that await them right here in Indiana. Not only does Indiana offer top-notch schools at a reasonable value, but we are also committed to ensuring that there are jobs awaiting our students once they graduate, whether that be right out of high school or after years of additional schooling.

It is my hope that as similar rankings continue to be released and our economy continues to grow, more and more of Indiana’s best and brightest will chose the Hoosier state as the place where they want to obtain an education, build a career and raise a family.

Rep. Frye (R-Greensburg) represents Ohio and Switzerland counties, as well as portions of Ripley, Decatur, Jennings, Jefferson and Dearborn counties

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