Lumina Foundation president testifies to U.S. House education committee on campus’ initiative
KOKOMO, IN – Indiana University Kokomo has received national attention for its cutting-edge approach to saving students money while ensuring degree completion, after the university was named as a leader in innovation during an education committee meeting on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, November 30.
James Merisotis, president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation, highlights IU Kokomo’s “Student Success Tuition Discount” program as a frontrunner in blazing new trails for tuition cost-saving measures among colleges and institutions nationwide. Merisotis testified before the Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Education and the Workforce Committee. The topic of discussion was “Keeping College Within Reach: Discussing Ways Institutions Can Streamline Costs and Reduce Tuition.”
“A good example is found right in my home state of Indiana at Indiana University Kokomo where students who commit to completing 30 credit hours per year, maintaining continuous enrollment, and making satisfactory academic progress receive three successive years of discounted tuition, producing a savings equal to one full year’s tuition by the end of the program,” Merisotis said to the committee, referring to one of the four strategies the Foundation advocates to increase course and degree completion.
The initiative, which began this fall semester, was developed after Chancellor Michael Harris appointed a Graduation Task Force to implement innovative methods to improve graduation rates. During his installation speech in October 2010, Harris emphasized the commitment of the university and importance of increasing the number of students who graduate.
“I ask for every creative and innovative analysis, and very bold, unusual cutting-edge recommendations,” Harris said. “IU President Michael McRobbie has challenged all IU regional campuses to improve graduation rates. Academic excellence and student success are at the heart of our enterprise. We continue to examine policies, process, space, technology and structure. Let there be no mistake, more of our students must complete their degrees!”
Currently, 40 students are enrolled in the pilot program, which centers on three successive years of incremental discounted tuition beginning at 20 percent, then 30 percent, and ending with a 40 percent reduction in the senior year. The end result is a tuition discount equivalent to one full year and degree completion within four years. Students are tracked to ensure the requirements are met.
One rationale for this innovative program is to create a countervailing force to employment, the number one obstacle identified by faculty and staff as impeding persistence and on-time graduation.
“If we can replace or reduce work as priority for our students, we believe we can positively impact graduation rates,” Harris said. “We will continue to be responsive to the needs and preferences of those we serve by ensuring that we maintain a competitive edge and offer significant added value in our education.”
The Lumina Foundation is a private, independent institution and is the nation’s largest foundation committed to increasing students’ access and success in postsecondary education. Goal 2025 defines their mission. The goal states “to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.” Lumina pursues this goal by identifying and supporting effective practice, encouraging effective public policy, and using their communications and convening capacity to build public will for change. They were established in Indianapolis, Indiana in August of 2000.
“Education, specifically higher education, is one of the most critical factors in our nation’s long-term economic growth plans,” said Merisotis. “A dramatic increase in educational attainment must become a top national priority if we intend to build our labor pool and beat out other countries for the jobs of the future. At Lumina, we support organizations that are committed to increasing the number of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025.”
The members of the House workforce education committee can be found at this link: http://edworkforce.house.gov/
Source: Lumina Foundation
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.