The Journal Gazette
Thursday, January 16, 2020 1:00 am

Poll: Education valued, debt a worry

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Most Hoosiers value education beyond high school but say more should be done to ensure graduates aren't saddled with debt, according to a statewide survey released today by INvestEd.

Representatives from INvestEd – an Indiana nonprofit financial aid literacy and student loan organization – will be at Snider High School today to share these findings and help students with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Students must file the FAFSA by April 15 to be eligible for financial aid from the state.

Paying for higher education is a common concern. About 80% of state residents worry about the $29,000 in student loans held by the average indebted college graduate in the state, the survey commissioned by INvestEd found.

INvestEd wants Indiana to reach its goal of increasing the percentage of residents with quality degrees or credentials beyond high school to 60% by 2025, said Joe Wood, president and CEO.

“Cost is often cited as one of the biggest barriers to higher education, and that's why we are so committed to helping Hoosier families get the information they need regarding financial aid and responsible funding options,” Wood said in a statement.

Many of the 602 people surveyed supported having more options to help pay for college outside traditional student loan programs and scholarships.

Almost 90% said it's important for colleges to offer innovative programs, such as income share agreements, to help students pay for college, acquire marketable skills and find meaningful employment, the survey found.

With traditional loans, graduates pay principal and interest until the balance is zero.

Income share agreements allow graduates to pay their alma mater a percentage of their salary for a set period of time. Terms can vary. The concept is gaining popularity at Purdue University, which reported record participation in its Back a Boiler program for the fall 2019 semester.

INvestEd found 85% of Hoosiers would prefer to pay for college using a percentage of their future income if given the option. 

INvestEd representatives will also attend events at Wayne High School on Jan. 22 and Bluffton High School on Feb. 5.

“Students and families truly value higher education and as a nonprofit partner to the state of Indiana, our focus is on helping Hoosiers plan for college, manage costs and understand which financial-aid options are right for them,” Wood said.

This story has been corrected.

INvestEd survey findings

• 89% of Hoosiers say it's important to have options to pay for college outside of traditional student loan programs and scholarships.

• 87% say it's important that Indiana's colleges offer innovative programs to help students pay for college, acquire marketable skills and find meaningful employment.

• 81% say companies are better positioned to attract and retain workers if they provide free access to resources that allow workers and their families to prepare to pay for college and avoid student loan debt.

• 77% say they are concerned that student debt has a stifling effect on economic growth and talent attraction across the state.

• 91% say it is important that families have access to free and transparent financial aid literacy resources to avoid taking on too much student loan debt.

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