After more than a decade of decline, Indiana’s college-going rate and overall college enrollment are starting to turn around.
The college-going rate for high school graduates from the class of 2021 pursuing some form of postsecondary education held steady at 53%.
Additionally, this fall, Indiana colleges and universities saw nearly 5,000 more students enroll, a 2% increase in enrollment. More students are completing their degree programs with the state, seeing a nearly 9% increase in on-time completion over five years.
“Last year, the Commission sounded the alarm on Indiana’s falling college-going rate. This made clear that thoughtful, robust action must be taken to reverse the present trend,” said Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Chris Lowery.
“The Commission, with support from partners in education, business, community, and faith-based organizations, philanthropy and government began advocating for and implementing ground-breaking policies and programs that directly impact the affordability of higher education in Indiana. The flattening of the college-going rate, coupled with 2023 enrollment data, is encouraging. The Commission remains laser-focused on closing persistent gaps.”
Indiana’s college-going rate holds steady at 53%
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s most recent data shows that 53% of the high school graduating class of 2021 enrolled in college immediately following graduation. This includes students who pursued less than a one-year certificate through a four-year degree.
- 21st Century Scholars continue to enroll in college at higher rates than non-scholars, low-income peers (81% compared to 30%).
- Roughly 43% of Hispanic or Latino high school graduates enrolled in college in 2021, followed closely by 45% of Black students, compared to 55% of white students.
- Men continue to go to college at a lower rate than women with 46% of men enrolling in college compared to 60% of women.
The Commission publishes interactive dashboards for users to view historical data by county, school corporation, institutions, gender, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status and more.
Indiana’s 2023 college-readiness report HERE.
Higher education gives Indiana value
Higher education in Indiana is ranked in the top 10 nationally for providing the best value.
- Indiana ranks first in the Midwest and fifth in the nation in providing need-based financial aid.
- Over the past decade, the state’s four-year institutions have ranked sixth best in the nation at holding the line in tuition and mandatory fees.
“These rankings combined with the newly implemented policy and programmatic changes make me hopeful for the future of our state,” said Lowery.
“I am bullish on the prospects for rapid improvements to Indiana’s college-going rate to ensure more Hoosier students can access the opportunities that education and training beyond high school provide leading to better outcomes for individuals, for employers, for communities and for our state.”
Indiana sees largest year-over-year college enrollment increase since 2010
College enrollment increased by nearly 5,000 students, or 2%, compared to the fall 2022 school year, making 2023 the first year enrollment in Indiana has increased in the past 13 years. Over 244,000 students, both undergraduate and graduate, enrolled in one of Indiana’s public higher education institutions during the fall 2023 school year.
- Enrollment at statewide public institutions increased by nearly 5,000 students from fall 2022.
- Resident enrollment increased by nearly 2%.
- At the undergraduate level, enrollment improved by nearly 3% from fall 2022 while graduate enrollment declined by less than 1%.
- Both four- and two-year institutions experienced a year-over-year increase in enrollment.
“After an historic investment in education from Indiana’s General Assembly, this is promising news for the future of students and a glimpse at how the state’s college-going rate will be impacted,” said Lowery.
“Critical policy changes such as the 35% increase to the Frank O’Bannon Grant made the cost of higher education even more affordable to Hoosier students and families this fall. The Commission is looking forward to seeing the impact additional policies including 21st Century Scholars automatic enrollment, revised Outcomes-Based Performance Funding formula, aggressive expansion of the Indiana College Core and Indiana Pre-Admissions: Your Path to College will have on the state’s college-going rate and enrollment in the coming years.”
The full fall 2023 census enrollment summary can be found HERE.
More students are completing a degree or credential
Also, there have been marked improvements in Indiana’s college completion rates over the past five years at both two- and four-year campuses. On-time completion rates have increased by nearly 6% at four-year campuses and 9.35% at two-year campuses. Extended-time completion rates (within six years for any degree type) have had similar improvements.
- Nearly 70% of all students graduated in an extended timeframe. This is an over 8% increase in five years.
- Over 80% of students at a four-year main campus graduated within six years.
- Nearly three out of four students (73%) at any four-year campus graduated within six years.
- Extended-time graduation rates at two-year campuses are up over 11% in five years.
“Indiana’s revised Outcomes-Based Performance Funding formula continues to encourage institutions to keep their foot on the gas of improving college completions,” said Lowery. “It is encouraging to see improvements in both on-time and extended-time completion rates, but more can be done to ensure all students finish their degree program of choice. Automatically enrolling 21st Century Scholars allows the Commission and its partners to shift its focus from one of enrollment to one of college and career success. Additionally, the Commission is pleased to receive support from the State Budget Committee to embed success coaches in higher education institutions around the state.”
Read Indiana’s 2023 college-completion data HERE.