Improving education for every Hoosier student

Posted by: Kim Heffner  | Tuesday, April 28, 2015

As the 2015 legislative session comes to a close, I am pleased that our focus continues to be on education. I have shared before that the most important bill we must pass this session is the budget. I am pleased that both House and Senate leaders are committed to funding K-12 education at unprecedented levels as well as supporting educational innovation and teacher achievement.

While funding education is very important, we have done more than just provide money to schools. In fact, we have already passed numerous pieces of legislation that support and promote excellent education in Indiana. Two bills, in particular, focus on helping high school students with the graduation process. The first is House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1042 which assists students who are planning to pursue higher education after high school.

The cost of a college or university education has risen dramatically in recent years, which has resulted in students taking greater loan amounts and incurring large quantities of student debt over their time in school. Part of the reason students have so much debt at the end of college is due to the lack of information or guidance provided about the actual cost of school, the life of their loan or what their payments will be like after college. Unfortunately, this has caused some students to borrow more money than necessary to fund their education.

The legislation requires any college or university that receives public funds to provide certain information to students entering college about the financing process. The required information includes the total loan amount, the total payoff amount and the monthly repayment amount. Governor Pence has already signed HEA 1042 and it will go into effect on July 1.

Another bill the General Assembly passed this session focuses on helping students with special needs successfully complete high school and receive a diploma. House Bill (HB) 1194 requires that educators work with the parents of special needs students in eighth grade to develop individualized course plans for high school. These plans must include the type of diploma to be achieved and the required courses to do so. The student’s teacher must also keep in communication with the student’s parent at least once during every grading period to keep the parent informed of the student’s progress. In addition, the Core 40 subcommittee of the Indiana Career Council will recommend to the General Assembly changes to the requirements for each type of diploma available in Indiana. The General Assembly will consider these changes in order to ensure the flexibility necessary for students with special needs to achieve a diploma.

It has been a privilege to serve you in the General Assembly during this session. I hope to continue hearing your feedback about the issues affecting you and your family. Please contact me at 317-232-9643 or h91@iga.in.gov. To keep up with the Legislature while we are not in session, you can visit our website at www.indianahouserepublicans.com.

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Rep. Behning (R-Indianapolis) represents portions of Marion and Hendricks counties. He also serves as Chairman of the Education Committee.