Governor Mitch Daniels signed three key pieces of "student-friendly" legislation today that will make it easier for Hoosier college students to graduate on time and find answers to their higher education questions. The new laws will streamline college degree credit requirements, make it easier for students to transfer between colleges and create a unified state higher education agency for Indiana.
"At a time when higher education has never been more important, earning a college degree is taking Hoosiers too long, costing them too much, and leading far too many to pile up debt with no degree," said Daniels. "Indiana took an essential step toward reversing these trends with student-centered legislation that will make it easier for more Hoosiers to realize the promise of a college degree."
Teresa Lubbers, Indiana's Commissioner for Higher Education, said the three bills align perfectly with the state's newly adopted Reaching Higher, Achieving More strategic plan for higher education.
"Reaching Higher, Achieving More aims to increase student success by creating more pathways for degree completion, safeguarding college affordability and ensuring academic quality at all levels of Indiana's higher education system," Lubbers said.
New laws set to take effect on July 1, 2012 include:
Curbing college credit creep: House Enrolled Act 1220 will help Indiana students graduate on time by eliminating excessive credits required to earn a college degree. The historical standard was 120 credit hours for a bachelor's degree (four years of full-time attendance) and 60 credits for an associate degree (two years of full-time attendance). Credit requirements have steadily increased nationwide over the years, and today nearly 90 percent of Indiana college degree programs exceed that standard. HEA 1220 will require the state's colleges and universities to provide justification for degree programs that exceed the standard through an ongoing audit process that empowers the state to eliminate degree programs.
Streamlining college transfer: Senate Enrolled Act 182 requires the Commission for Higher Education to implement and maintain a common numbering system for college courses offered by the state's colleges and universities. SEA 182 also requires the establishment of a common general education core curriculum (30 credit hours) that is recognized by all public institutions by May 2013. Taken together, these actions are designed to help students understand how courses transfer between colleges and to ensure students are not required to retake comparable courses at additional time and expense.
Unifying Indiana's higher education agencies: Indiana currently has three separate state agencies charged with overseeing public higher education policy, college financial aid and for-profit education. The agencies include the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (CHE), the State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana (SSACI) and the Commission on Proprietary Education (COPE). House Enrolled Act 1270 will consolidate these functions under a unified higher education agency under the direction of CHE with separate boards for public higher education and proprietary education. The result is intended to streamline state services, reduce confusion for Hoosiers and promote greater coordination, clarity and transparency across the higher education sector.