Providing Hoosier students with the proper stepping stones for a postsecondary education
Hoosier students are the future of our state. The next generation of leaders is in classrooms throughout the state, learning the skills necessary to keep Indiana moving forward. For each student to reach their potential, education equality is the first step. It is vital that every student has the same opportunities and resources to excel and chase after their American Dream. That is why the General Assembly has focused on passing legislation that supports Hoosier students in pursuing higher education, acquiring the skills necessary to fill high demands jobs and ultimately joining the workforce.
Many bills this session have been introduced in an effort to significantly help students with their postsecondary education opportunities. Some of the legislation addresses how students are prepared for the next step while still in their K-12 career. For instance, House Bill (HB) 1413 is legislation that will help incentivize schools to be more innovative and use technology in ways to advance student learning and accomplishments in their communities.
The bill will create the Rewarding Innovation, Technology, and Excellence (RITE) program, providing grants to those schools that have shown improvement toward benchmarks established by the state Board of Education. In order to apply for a grant under the RITE program, a school corporation must display the following: (1) innovation; (2) use of technology; or (3) other efforts to achieve excellence. They must also have led to improvement in meeting various benchmarks.
HB 1413 also requires that local sources match the grant dollar for dollar, helping to strengthen partnerships between community resources and schools. This is a great way to get local communities more involved, in addition to creating a better environment for Hoosier students to stay competitive and excel academically.
When a student is applying for postsecondary education, they need to provide a transcript. HB 1341 will create a standardized electronic transcript program that will make it easier for high school students to send their transcripts to schools and employers.
Currently, Indiana high schools vary in the way they provide and record their transcripts. Having different variations of transcripts has caused confusion for students applying to higher education or employment. The statewide E-transcript program will eliminate any confusion and make it easier for students to apply to any college through one uniformed transcript. Accredited nonpublic secondary are given the option of whether or not they want to participate in the common electric transcript developed by the Department of Education.
One of the first steps when applying to any college involves a student’s transcript, the second step is usually figuring out how to pay for it. Unfortunately, this is one of the main deterrents for students who want to continue their education. Financial constraints should not limit a student’s possibilities in life. With private markets limiting the amount of low interest loans granted to students, Senate Bill (SB) 532 permits the Indiana Secondary Market (ISM) for Education Loans, Inc. to become a direct lender of postsecondary education loans for purposes of attending both Indiana and non-Indiana postsecondary education schools.
Currently, ISM does not have clear ability in its legislative charter or articles of incorporation to permit it to be a direct originator of postsecondary education loans. SB 532 will help ease the burden off of students who are experiencing increased borrowing costs and higher tuition levels. The bill will also provide a way for students to have a smarter and more cost efficient option for postsecondary education loans, helping to fill the financial gap created by the federal student loan and grant restrictions.
Legislation like SB 532, HB 1413 and HB 1341 are vital for Indiana to remain academically competitive with the rest of the country. It is imperative we continue to support and promote legislation that will provide outstanding opportunities and academic chances for Hoosier children. Indiana’s future lies in the hands of these Hoosier students. It is our responsibility to provide them with the tools needed to follow and accomplish their future dreams and aspirations.