Snyder agreed, and told committee members Ivy Tech has no intent to reduce its critical role as a statewide community college providing low-cost education and training to millions of Hoosiers who can’t afford — or don’t want — a traditional four-year degree from one of the state’s more costly residential universities.
“For many people, community colleges are still the pathway to the middle class,” Snyder said.
Enrollment at Ivy Tech has grown by more than 50 percent in the past six years, at nearly 200,000 students, making it the largest public post-secondary institution in the state. It has 31 campuses for which it receives direct state funding, but it also offers classes in more than 40 other communities, for which it receives much less state money.
The rapid growth, with programs or campuses in most of Indiana’s 92 counties, has presented major challenges. The school has what Snyder described as a $78 million shortfall — money it doesn’t have but needs to spend on upgrading equipment, expanding classroom facilities, and hiring more academic advising and guidance staff.
Snyder told budget committee members Ivy Tech already has consolidated its administration offices and school officials are conducting a cost-benefit analysis this summer of all sites that operate through lease agreements without state support. Snyder also said he expects there will be a round of employee layoffs announced in the next week.
Ivy Tech has come under some criticism for its low on-time graduation rate; only 4 percent of its students complete an associate degree within two years of enrolling. But Snyder said most Ivy Tech students don’t take a full load of classes because they have to work or raise families.
Ivy Tech became a statewide community college in 2005, taking over the role of other universities' regional campuses as the state’s provider of associate degrees and handling most of the remediation programs for high school graduates not ready to go on to college.
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at email@example.com