Latest data shows barely half of Indiana high school grads attend college immediately, a significant drop from 2015

The college-going rate for Indiana high school graduates sits at 52.9% with the national average at 62%.

Indiana's high school graduates have increasingly put off college since 2015, with the largest drop in enrollment coming after the COVID-19 pandemic.

On July 13, Chris Lowery, the Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education, revealed that only 52.9% of Indiana high school graduates from the class of 2021 immediately enrolled in college.

While the full report featuring data on the class of 2021 isn’t published yet, the statistic indicates a 0.5% decline from the class of 2020 report, and a 22% decline since the class of 2015 when approximately 65% of Indiana’s high school graduates enrolled in college. 

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The Indiana college-going rate has declined each year since 2015. The largest single-year decrease occurred between 2019 and 2020 when enrollment dropped from 58.4% to just 53.4% largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As of October 2022, the national college-going rate for high school graduates was 62%.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education is focused on increasing the college-going rate for youth and adults in Indiana by expanding proven policies, programs and partnerships,” said Lowery in a statement provided to Campus Reform. “Our strategic initiatives such as the Indiana Pre-Admissions initiative, the 21st Century Scholars program, the Frank O’Bannon grant, revising the state’s Outcomes-Based Performance Funding formula and the Indiana College Core are all geared towards reversing the decline and addressing attainment gaps.” 

He continued, “This is evidenced in the soon-to-be-released College Readiness Report, which will show that the college-going rate in Indiana held steady at 53% for the class of 2021. Furthermore, the Commission’s HOPE Agenda will guide our work throughout the coming years as we seek to ensure all Hoosiers have the opportunity to access the hope higher education provides.”

Indiana’s most recent report on the class of 2020 notes that the national average of high school seniors attending college post-graduation fell by 7% from 2016-2020. Campus Reform has previously covered this trend as schools across the country have seen a drop in enrollment.

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In June, Campus Reform reported the consulting firm EAB found that post-COVID-19 college enrollment was down by approximately 1 million students nationwide. 20% of respondents to the EAB survey of over 20,000 students indicated they didn’t feel higher education was worth the cost, up from 8% in 2019. Another 22% of respondents said they didn’t feel mentally prepared for college, up from 14% in 2019.

In July, Campus Reform reported that a recent Gallup poll suggested that only 36% of Americans have a significant level of confidence in higher education, a significant drop from 57% of Americans in 2015. The number of Americans who reported having very little trust in higher education as a whole also skyrocketed by 144% in the same span of time.

Campus Reform has reached out to all relevant parties for comment and will update this article accordingly. 

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