Higher education commissioner speaks at Holy Cross on importance of pursuing college

Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 7:10 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Indiana’s Commissioner for Higher Education has high hopes of reversing a troubling trend.

Commissioner Chris Lowery visited the Holy Cross College campus Tuesday to discuss the state of higher education with local leaders.

Lowery is concerned that fewer and fewer Indiana high school graduates are going on to college or some other form of training. “The slope has been downward for about the last decade, and, you know, some of the policies and programs we’ve been putting in place - I’m very confident we’re going to reverse the trajectory.”

Lowery has only been on the job for about 18 months. He says the most recent data puts the state’s ‘college-going rate’ at 53%. Lowery is a man on a mission to try and turn back the clock.

“I set an aggressive goal you know, we were at 65% five, now six years ago, college-going rate,” Lowery said. “I have said if we’re not there by 2030, so reverse the slope of that curve by 2030, back to at least 65%, then we’re failing along the way. I’m feeling very confident we’re going to achieve our goal.”

Lowery says Indiana ranks sixth best in the nation when it comes to holding down tuition and fees and that the average undergraduate here has about $28,000 in debt which Lowery described as the cost of a Kia.

As for the benefits of an investment in higher education, Lowery says, “Secondary attainment in Indiana and anywhere else leads to higher incomes, lower unemployment rates, higher labor participation, greater accumulation of net worth, lower probability of utilization of public assistance.”

Lowery further claims going to college can add years to your life.

“Life expectancy,” Lowery stated. “Life expectancy. There’s a 13-year difference in the United States between someone with less than a high school diploma and somebody with a bachelor’s degree and higher.”