The campaign will encourage more Hoosiers to pursue education or training beyond high school

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education today launched its statewide “Education Value Movement” to help stem the college-going decline and encourage more Hoosier students and adult learners to pursue some form of education or training beyond high school.

Over the past 18 months, the Commission and its partners at the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet and VOX Global have undertaken in-depth qualitative and quantitative research, focus groups and surveys to understand why Hoosiers are – or increasingly aren’t – enrolling in or promoting college. The Commission’s most recent data show just over half (53 percent) of Indiana high school graduates in the class of 2020 pursued some form of education beyond high school. Additionally, nearly 2 million working-age Hoosiers do not have postsecondary credentials.

“Indiana’s current and future growth is directly related to the level of our skilled workforce,” said Gov. Eric J. Holcomb. “Not only do we need to better stress the value proposition of education beyond high school, but Hoosier families also need to be made more aware of Indiana’s generous financial aid at our many high-quality postsecondary institutions. The Commission’s research into attitudes about higher education will inform our state’s collective efforts in messaging to high school students and adult learners that college yields a high return on investment and is equally accessible.”

During its research, the Commission conducted in-depth interviews with more than 100 Hoosiers and fielded a survey reaching 1,254 Indiana residents with varying experiences and attitudes toward higher education. Audiences were comprised of the general population, adult learners, parents and current high school students. Two key themes emerged from the initial analysis: “College is too expensive,” and “College isn’t necessary.”

Eighty-four percent of survey respondents believe that college is too expensive, and 60 percent believe a degree doesn’t mean as much as it used to. However, when measuring the overall sentiment about college, Hoosiers still feel favorable – 82 percent of survey participants responded favorably toward “higher education.”

“Choosing to pursue education beyond high school is a deeply personal decision and there are often barriers that people must overcome to be successful in their pursuit – even if it is something people feel positively about for their lives or the lives of their loved ones,” said Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Chris Lowery. “It is important to approach the college conversation in ways that don’t automatically turn people off the idea, and that starts with acknowledging the skepticism, helping students and adult learners navigate the cost and connecting everyone to the myriad resources Indiana makes available.”

Using the research findings, the Commission developed a new message framework to better deliver positive messages around the value of higher education for the state overall. The messages were tested during interviews with educators and in focus groups comprised of high school students, adult learners and parents.

The Commission is equipping trusted messengers such as partner state agencies, educators, nonprofit organizations, community- and faith-based groups, and philanthropic teams with tools, information and resources to encourage high school students and adult learners to pursue a degree or credential beyond high school. Individuals interested in learning how to implement the message framework of the “Education Value Movement,” can complete the free 20- minute module. One Professional Growth Plan (PGP) point (to be used toward licensure renewal) will be awarded to Indiana educators who successfully complete the module.

Based on the Commission’s research, trusted messengers are more likely to be listened to and their messages more likely to resonate with students and adult learners. Twenty-seven percent of survey respondents view the state government as being trustworthy or extremely trustworthy when it comes to providing guidance, advice, and resources about education beyond high school. This is compared to 66 percent for school counselors/teachers, 70 percent for friends and 77 percent for family.

“Data consistently show the economic and social benefits that come with greater levels of education. And Indiana has a great story to tell about the value of higher education – when adjusted for inflation, tuition and fees at four-year, public Indiana colleges have gone down by 7 percent over the last year,” said Lowery. “We have to continue building this positive narrative, and leaning on our state’s trusted messengers – teachers, school counselors, business leaders, community partners, faith leaders and philanthropists – to add a voice to this movement.”

The “Education Value Movement” campaign kicks off today with radio, television and social media ad buys featuring football hall-of-famer and Indiana college graduate Jerome Bettis. Recently, the former Pittsburgh Steelers star and Detroit native went back to finish his business degree at the University of Notre Dame – where he started nearly three decades earlier. The Commission obtained an exclusive interview with Bettis about why completing his postsecondary education was important to him – and why he believes it’s important for others.

All campaign traffic will be driven to the redesigned Learn More Indiana website which will connect Hoosiers with updated resources and support for 21st Century Scholars. The Commission will be conducting follow-up surveys of Hoosiers to gauge the impact of its efforts. Anyone who is interested in learning more about the Commission’s work or connecting with a staff member who can provide a messaging training opportunity can reach Charlee Beasor at or by calling 317-232-1060.

Originally posted by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Kuehr — 317-600-8755 —