Keeping college affordable is a key component of keeping college accessible.
IUPUI has adopted a comprehensive multipronged approach, in keeping with President Michael McRobbie’s State of the University Address, in which he expressed IU’s vow to keeping the cost of attendance below levels paid at similar high–quality institutions. It includes keeping costs down and increasing financial aid, but several initiatives also involve on–time degree completion. By working on several fronts, IUPUI aims to keep the cost of college manageable and lessen the pressure for students to borrow more than they need to invest in their education.
According to Mark Kantrowitz (publisher of Fastweb and FinAid.org), only 1.5% of students in the U.S. completed degrees with six–figure student–loan debt in 2007–8, and 90% of those were graduate or professional students. Although the number of students who are significantly in debt is small, many still fear indebtedness owing to uncertainty about the state of the nation’s economy. In general, a baccalaureate degree adds some $1.3 million in lifetime earnings, which is a very good return on investment over time, but in the short term, keeping student debt down is wise as we try to strike the right balance for quality and affordability.
In 2010–11, 54% of IUPUI undergraduates had federal loans with an average amount of the loan being $8,100. To help students manage their need to borrow money for college, we offer a series of programs to help keep students on track to graduation.
Helping students complete degrees on time is the goal of the ePDP: electronic Personal Development Plan. The ePDP is an online tool that is integrated with our Student Information System so that students can build four–year degree plans in relation to career goals and share them with an academic advisor and career counselor on a semester–by–semester basis. Students are introduced to it in first–year seminars. It gives them a compass, encourages goal setting, and instills a commitment to earning a degree. Assessments of the fall 2010 e–PDP pilot and the fall 2011 expanded program shows that students who used it achieved higher GPAs and were retained at significantly higher levels (80%) than students who did not complete an ePDP (72%).
Since 2011, IUPUI also provides undergraduate students with incentives to use summer enrollment in coursework as a way to stay on track for graduation in four years. This includes not only tuition discounts but also campus investment in expanding opportunities for on–campus jobs, another proven retention strategy and way to keep borrowing down.
Even students with scholarships are more likely to stay on track to graduation if there is supportive programming. The Twenty–First Century Scholars Program, Norman Brown Diversity and Leadership Scholars, the Nina Scholars Program, and TRiO — Student Support Services all provide specialized academic advising and support from trained peer mentors to facilitate student success and on–time degree completion.
Additionally, the Summer Bridge Program is open to incoming freshmen in participating schools and majors. Recipients of the IUPUI Twenty–First Century Scholars Grant are required to participate. As with the ePDP, students tend to be more academically successful in making the transition from high school to college if they take part.
The Student Success Program, operated out of the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, takes a holistic approach to serving minority students and keeping them on track to graduation. It involves intrusive academic advising and support; curricular and cocurricular engagement; tutoring; workshops; designated study time; and peer support through the Student African American Brotherhood and Sisterhood SAAB/SAAS student organizations.
The new $2,500 Undergraduate Graduation Incentive Grant is designed to help seniors step up from part–time to full–time enrollment when they have 30 credit hours or less left to complete their first undergraduate degree at IUPUI. It is reserved for students who without additional financial support will not be able to graduate within six years.
There is also now a financial incentive for students who are on track to graduate in four years: IU’s new On–Time Completion Award Program. Under this program, students who reach the end of their sophomore year in good academic standing will receive financial awards during their final two years that will offset any increase in tuition or university–imposed fees they would otherwise be required to pay. This pilot program starts in the fall of 2013.
Beginning in April, the Financial Wellness Council‐staff from across campus interested in developing programming on financial literacy for IUPUI students — will offer workshops through spring and summer as part of new student orientation. This initiative should also help students manage the investment they make in their education more wisely.
And in this season of giving, we thank all those generous contributors to the IUPUI IMPACT Campaign who support students through scholarships and fellowships and who are partnering with us in keeping college affordable and within reach for all.