Indiana increased higher education funding while many states made cuts

BLOOMINGTON, IND. -- Indiana is spending more on higher education while many states are making cuts, according to a new report.

Declining state revenues, however, could make that trend difficult to sustain.

Indiana increased appropriations for colleges and universities by 2.5 percent for the 2003-04 fiscal year while higher education funding nationwide saw a 2.1 percent reduction, according to the annual report by the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University.

"When other states were cutting back and battening the hatches down, the leadership in Indiana stepped up and looked for positive solutions to the future of the state," Indiana University Trustee Steve Ferguson told The Herald-Times for a story Wednesday.

The increase was "remarkable" given that lawmakers were struggling with a budget deficit and state revenue collections fell short of predictions, he said.

The largest percentage increase in state spending for colleges went to Ivy Tech State College, whose appropriation jumped 13 percent.

Funding for student financial aid increased by 14 percent, the report said.

However, Indiana's funding for its colleges still trails several other states'.

Indiana ranked 34th among the 50 states in per-capita state and local funding for higher education, according to the report.

The cigarette-smoking rate among Indiana high school students dropped from 32% in 2000 to 23% in 2002.

The number of cigarettes sold decreased by 17 percent in 2003 which means that Hoosier smokers are smoking less ­ a significant step toward quitting.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Commission reports that the number of sales to minors dropped to 14% compared to 29% when the ITPC program began in 2001.

Approximately 86% of Hoosier adults who smoke say they expect to quit smoking and 62% say they will quit smoking in the next 6 months.

Cessation services and resources are promoted and available through a network of locally funded grants that cover all 92 counties.

Three out of every four adults and youth are aware of the ITPC statewide media campaign.

Less youth are smoking, cigarette use has declined, sales to minors has declined, Hoosiers want to quit and services are provided in every county across the state.

“We are beginning to see positive changes because of ITPC efforts across the state and these efforts have positively impacted the Latino community, by having educational programs in Spanish, which contain culturally appropriate messages,” said Aida McCammon, President/CEO of the Indiana Latino Institute. “At one of the educational presentations, an elementary student stated to our Health Promoter that he will never touch tobacco.”

Fully funding ITPC will assure that more children and young people make the commitment to be tobacco free and will lead to a healthier future for Indiana.