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Ivy Tech unveils new model to make community college more affordable – Kokomo Perspective

Ivy Tech Community College students will feel less impact on their pocketbooks this coming school year, all while being more prepared for class and, eventually, graduation.

Last week, Ivy Tech administrators announced a new tuition model that will allow students to take more classes at no cost and free textbooks for the coming school year. The new initiatives are collectively dubbed Ivy+ and come as answers to the question: What barriers do students have to overcome? According to Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region Chancellor Dean McCurdy, the top barrier always is finances.

“That’s always at the top of the list. How are they going to pay for this? Among those concerns, obviously, first and foremost, is tuition,” McCurdy said.

Tuition freeze

The answer to that, he said, is a tuition freeze for the next two years. The price per credit hour remains at $149.55, the lowest in Indiana.

Banded tuition

In addition, the college is moving to banded tuition, which charges the same tuition rate for full-time students enrolled in 12 credits or more. For example, a student taking 12 credit hours and a student taking 15 credit hours — or even 24 — pay the same tuition rate: $2,243.25.

While a full-time student must have 12 credit hours, it actually takes 15 credit hours a semester to graduate on time. McCurdy hopes the new banded tuition model will remove the financial barrier for students, allowing them to take more credit hours at a time and graduate on time.

At Ivy Tech Kokomo, McCurdy said students, on average, take nine to 10-and-a-half credits in a semester.

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“To graduate on time, you need about 15, so we’re trying to get students close to that 15 credit hour mark. We know at least for students who get to that 12, 15 credit hour mark, they graduate sooner. They’re also more likely to graduate because life doesn’t have as much chance to intervene,” he said.

Summer-flex scholarship

A Summer-Flex Scholarship also is being offered to students who want to earn 30 credit hours during an academic year but don’t take 15 credits in the spring and fall terms. With the scholarship, students will be allowed to make up the remaining credits in the summer. For instance, if a student takes 12 credit hours both in the spring and fall, they can take the additional six credit hours in the summer at no additional cost.

Free textbooks

Another major piece of the changes at Ivy Tech will leave students and instructors smiling: free textbooks. For the 2021-2022 school year, Ivy Tech is covering the cost of textbooks using the federal government’s Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.

While that only covers the coming school year, for the following school years, Ivy Tech will begin including the cost of textbooks in the tuition fee to ensure students know their costs upfront and that they’re prepared for class.

“There’s research that shows 65 percent of college students don’t buy some or all of their books, and we know there’s a lot of research that shows that when you provide those books for a student at community colleges, when community colleges looked at that, they found it was over a 10-percent improvement in outcomes for students just by providing the books on the first day of class,” McCurdy said.

According to Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech, financial aid and scholarships often don’t cover the cost of course materials.

“Ivy+ makes us the only state institution that is not only freezing the cost of tuition but significantly reducing the cost of attendance at a time when we need many more Hoosiers to earn a quality college credential to launch a high-wage career,” Ellspermann said.