SOUTH BEND — As employer demand for college degrees continues to soar alongside college costs, Indiana could join a growing number of states exploring free or “substantially reduced” in-state tuition at state schools, a cause long pushed by a South Bend lawmaker.
As part of Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s workforce plan bill, the GOP-controlled Indiana House Monday unanimously passed an amendment to a Senate-passed bill to “study policies and proposals from other states … and analyze how these types of policies could be implemented in Indiana.”
The amendment was authored by Rep. Ryan Dvorak, D-South Bend, who in recent years has introduced multiple bills and amendments aimed at reducing college costs.
It would be one of a broad range of higher education and vocational training funding issues that a new College and Career Funding Review Committee would study, delivering a report to Holcomb and Indiana General Assembly leaders by Nov. 1.
For the past two years Dvorak has filed bills to phase out in-state tuition at state schools over 10 years, but the bills have died in committee. He’s also filed measures and bills over the years requiring state schools to freeze tuition.
“This is one of those longterm projects, but at least we’re making a little bit of headway,” Dvorak said. “Right now there’s a big policy movement across the country that is really, seriously trying to reduce college tuition. There’s some models we can look at.”
About a dozen states have launched initiatives. Tennessee in 2015 created free two-year degrees at community colleges. California now offers free community college for students who are the first in their families to attend. Ohio State University just decided to offer free tuition for Pell grant recipients.