Complete College America and the Lumina Foundation, which found Indiana ranked last in six-year completion rates for students at public two-year institutions, both agree students are at a higher risk of dropping out if they take six years to finish a two-year degree. The groups support encouraging students to take full-time class loads when possible. That often means colleges need to make their classes available at better times.
“Some students perhaps need to go part-time, but going part-time is highly correlated with never finishing,” said Jim Applegate, Lumina’s vice president of strategic impact.
Snyder, the Ivy Tech president, said state leaders are ignoring the impact of funding on completion rates. Ivy Tech is considering closing a quarter of its facilities and is weighing administrative and staff layoffs to help close its $68 million budget gap.
In Madison County, the City of Anderson donated 40 acres of land off Interstate-69 in May 2010 to build a new Ivy Tech campus, the state has not released the $20 million needed to construct the new facility.
“There’s a lag in understanding both at the general assembly level in each state and at the federal level that I think will need to be addressed,” Snyder said of general funding for Ivy Tech.
Teresa Lubbers, Indiana’s commissioner for higher education, said the numbers have to change.
“We’re nowhere close to where we need to be with completion,” Lubbers said. “I think all this means turning upside-down the delivery of education at the community college, based on not what the institution has been doing in the past but what the student needs now. These are stubborn numbers to move. We have to be willing to try multiple new ways to do this.”