INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana General Assembly is moving ahead on efforts to contain college costs, which have risen more than 100 percent over the last decade.
The House and Senate both approved legislation that streamlines the college credit transfer process, in part by requiring a common course numbering system that all state public universities would have to follow.
The goal is to make it easier for college students to know if costly course credits will transfer to another university before the student shells out the money to pay for them.
Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, who carried the bill in the House, described it as a “student-friendly bill” that compels universities to be more cooperative.
The bill also requires state-funded institutions to have at least 30 “general education” credit hours that are compatible with the curriculum at any state school. Students earning an associate degree at Ivy Tech Community College, for example, would have an easier time getting those college credit hours to transfer to a four-year state university.
The bill passed with broad bipartisan support; of the 150 legislators in the General Assembly, only two voted against it. The bill is on its way to Gov. Mitch Daniels’ desk for his signature.
Meanwhile, the state Senate has passed an amended version of a House bill that allows the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to approve or disapprove degree programs, both new and existing, that require more than 60 credit hours for an associate’s degree and 120 hours for a bachelor’s degree.
The legislation, dubbed the “credit creep bill,” was on Daniels’ legislative priority list.
It came in response to universities that had been increasing the number of credit hours required to earn a degree; in turn, students were having to more pay more money and delay their graduation.
Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said some degree programs were becoming unattainable for some students, since state student financial aid dollars are only available for the eight semesters it typically takes to earn 120 credit hours.
“It makes it nearly impossible for some students to complete their degrees,” Leising said.
The bill is aimed at improving the state’s college-completion rates. Less than one-third of students in Indiana’s four-year public universities graduate on time.