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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

Bill to expand Indiana college credit and degree options heads to governor’s desk


This story was written by Casey Smith. It was originally published by the Indiana Capital Chronicle here: https://indianacapitalchronicl...

On its way to the Indiana governor is a broad higher education bill that seeks to make college credits and degrees easier for students to earn. 

Senate Bill 8, authored by Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, will require Indiana College Core courses to be more accessible to high schoolers across the state. 

It also compels Hoosier colleges and universities, except Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University, to offer three-year degree programs by July 2025.

The final version of the bill advanced unanimously from both the House and Senate chambers on Thursday.

Not included in the legislation, however, is a since-deleted provision to allow Indiana’s attorney general to sue state higher education institutions that fail to report any contracts of value with or gifts from foreign “sources” located in foreign adversaries, like China, Iran, North Korea or Russia. That language was moved to another bill. 

Another requirement for the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) to offer all College Core courses online by 2027 was also removed in backdoor negotiations. Instead, the final draft of the bill softened the ask, allowing the state education department to partner with at least one higher education institution to provide online access to those courses by 2025.

The Indiana College Core, a block of 30 general education credits that can be transferred to and accepted at colleges across the state, is one way for students to seamlessly transfer. Through dual credit, roughly 1,800 high schoolers currently earn the Indiana College Core annually.

All Indiana high schools — public and private — are expected to offer the College Core by the 2024-2025 academic year, or submit a report to the Commission for Higher Education (CHE) by Oct. 1 of this year detailing a plan to do so by the 2026-2027 school year.

Any schools that do not plan to offer the College Core will be required to submit a feasibility report to the commission, though it’s not yet clear what details CHE will request in that report.

Among other provisions in the bill is also the establishment of a statewide reverse transfer policy for Ivy Tech and Vincennes to award associate degrees to eligible current and former students.

Reverse transfer is a relatively recent but increasingly popular policy that gives students a second chance to earn their first college degree. 

The process sees associate degrees awarded to students who transfer from a two-year to a four-year institution prior to completing their associate degree requirements at the two-year institution. Students are able to combine the credits they earn at their four-year school with those they’d previously earned at community college or through dual credit and retroactively be awarded a degree by the two-year college.

Republican lawmakers previously pointed to thousands of community college students who transfer each year to four-year colleges before finishing their associate degree. But many of those students ultimately drop out of college — degree-less and with debt.

To help more Hoosier students earn credentials — and inch the state closer to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s goal of having at least 60% of adult Hoosiers with a quality degree or credential beyond high school by 2025 — Senate Bill 8 mandates reverse transfer.

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