Indiana is the latest state to offer a direct college admissions program

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Dive Brief:

  • Indiana regulators announced Thursday they are starting a direct admissions program, beginning with the state’s high school class of 2024.
  • In September, students at 327 Indiana high schools will automatically be offered seats at one or more of the 38 public and private colleges in the state that are participating in the venture. The institutions offer a range of credentials, from short-term certificates to bachelor’s degrees.
  • Colleges will pre-admit students based on their GPA and SAT scores. Students must still fill out an application for the institutions and complete any other admissions requirements.

Dive Insight:

The initiative by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education — called Indiana Pre-Admissions: Your Path to College — aims to help shore up the state’s declining college-going rate, which the agency said Thursday sits at 53%. It has declined over time, from 65% in 2015 to 59% in 2019.

Participants include Indiana State University, Ivy Tech Community College and Valparaiso University.

The commission said it was encouraged by direct admissions initiatives in other states, including Minnesota and Idaho. In 2015, Idaho became the first state to try out such a program.

“Indiana is home to some of the best higher education institutions in the nation,” Chris Lowery, Indiana higher education commissioner said in a written statement. “Indiana Pre-Admissions: Your Path to College encourages students to apply to institutions they might have thought were not within reach, thus giving students hope and options for their postsecondary education.”

Research last year found Idaho’s program boosted first-time undergraduate enrollment between 4% and 8% — though it had little to no effect on college-going behavior of students eligible for federal Pell Grants, which benefit low- and moderate-income populations.

With Indiana’s program, students can apply either through the institution’s websites or the Common Application. The Common App is an online portal allowing students to apply to any of its 1,000-plus member institutions.

The Common App has been running direct admissions experiments itself since 2021. The organization unveiled results Tuesday from its third round of the pilot, which automatically offered seats at 13 colleges to 33,000 students. ‘

Students with direct admissions offers were twice as likely to apply to one of those colleges than those without one, Common App found.

At the same time, the organization’s leaders noted that financial aid is also an important piece to removing college access barriers.

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