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Not just rich kids.

Look beyond the "sticker price." Financial aid can make Indiana's private colleges and universities a good value.

Riverboat gambling could never come to Indiana.

Private colleges are only for rich kids.

Never assume.

Those who dismiss Indiana's independent colleges as enclaves of the wealthy could be making a mistake. Given the available financial aid and value for the money - and depending on the type of college atmosphere desired - private institutions can offer a viable alternative.

In fact, T.K. Olson, president of Independent Colleges of Indiana, or ICI, says finding a college that suits the needs of the individual is paramount. "We're blessed in Indiana to have fine public institutions at which students can receive a first-rate education. Many students, though, profit from attending a particular private college or university. Many more students would be a good match, but they're scared off by the difference in 'sticker price' between public and private institutions," he says.

"If those students would look into what aid is available, they might find that private colleges are truly affordable," Olson continues. "What they gain from the experience more than offsets any remaining price difference - whether it translates into increased earning potential, timely graduation or greater lifelong satisfaction."

Independent colleges and universities offer prospective students a track record of success, points out Dan Henkel, ICI's public-relations director. "A disproportionate number of those going on to professional programs - medicine, law and so forth - are graduates of independent institutions," he notes. "We attribute this trend in part to the closer, private attention given to students at private colleges."

As an example, Henkel says Goshen College "graduates pre-med students with an astonishing rate of success. They have a very high reputation among medical schools."

Ron Reeves, a vice president at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, claims "nearly 100 percent placement" of Rose-Hulman graduates in jobs within their career field within six months after graduating. Manchester College in North Manchester offers a free year's tuition to any graduate who goes six months without finding a job. According to Manchester's Office of Career Services, only seven baccalaureate graduates from the class of 1994 were still looking for employment six months after graduation.

Olson says the price of tuition for an independent college admittedly is higher than those of state-funded schools. "The 'sticker price' for private schools - median tuition - is $10,800 per year," he reports. "Public universities in indiana charge $2,800 per year. As a result of that difference, there's a common perception that only students from wealthy families attend private colleges and universities.

"However," Olson continues, "We provide a large percentage of our students with substantial financial aid, so that the difference between public school price and those of independent colleges often becomes more modest."

Figures from the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities indicate that dependent students at private schools had an estimated median family income of $46,100. Sixty-nine percent of full-time undergrads in independent higher education received financial assistance in 1992-93, according to national figures.

What's more, the difference isn't always as great as the medians imply. Ancilla College in Donaldson charges a mere $3,080 per year for tuition. "We have one of the lowest tuitions among private colleges in the country," says Jackie Walorski, director of institutional advancement at Ancilla. "We operate on a frugal budget and do a lot of fund-raising, making it a point to keep our tuition in line with state schools in the area."

Fort Wayne's Lutheran College of Health Professions charges just $173 per credit hour for tuition. Lutheran College focuses exclusively on health-care professions, offering bachelor's and associates degrees in physical therapy, nursing, emergency medical systems, radiology and surgical fields.

As an example of the private schools' efforts to lessen net costs for students, Olson cites the 21st Century Scholars program initiated by Gov. Evan Bayh. This low-income subsidy program targets eighth-grade students who qualify for the free/reduced lunch program. Eligible students who sign (and honor) a contract to take college preparatory courses, finish high school and resist illegal drug and alcohol use receive a full scholarship to a public university, or the equivalent in financial aid to attend a private school.

"Earlham has some students from families with incomes under $30,000 a year," reports president Richard Wood. The average family income of students who apply for financial aid at the University of Evansville is $45,000, while Franklin College reports an average of $54,000 and Rose-Hulman $57,000.

Olson comments on three recent studies conducted in Minnesota, Florida and Oregon in which public colleges and universities were compared to private institutions' four-year programs. "In all three states, it was concluded that the average income level of students in the public-sector schools actually was higher than those attending private institutions," he notes.

ICI officials conclude that financial aid is the key to affordability at Indiana's independent colleges, and opportunities abound. According to Alan Clark at Hanover College, 70 percent of Hanover students receive financial aid based on need and/or merit. At Saint Francis College in Fort Wayne, 657 members of the student body of 1,000 were awarded financial aid last year, receiving a total of some $1.5 million.

Once the financial challenges of attending college are resolved, an important question remains: "What am I getting for my money?"

"The point is value, preparation for a career and getting the right fit," Henkel says. "Private colleges have small class sizes - often fewer than 15 students per class in upper-division classes. A department of three or four professors is typical. They'll all know you and they're accessible. Opportunities abound for individual-study courses."

Many independent colleges are implementing programs specially tailored to fit the specific needs of their student bodies. Special efforts such as satellite classes as well as accessibility to cyberspace and fiber-optic technology address the changing needs of a high-tech society. Rose-Hulman, for instance, requires that each entering freshman possess and use a laptop computer. Rose-Hulman, Earlham College and Huntington College were early leaders in Internet technology among Indiana institutions.

Franklin College began an unusual effort to prepare students for professional life by opening its Dietz Center for Professional Development in October 1994. This 39,800-square-foot residential center for seniors includes a learning facility and a living center. Within, students are taught the mores of professionalism, concentrating on self-confidence, communication skills, management, social etiquette and such specific skills as resume writing, budgeting and interviewing for a job.

Center activities include luncheons with campus trustees or business officials, Saturday brunches/workshops, trips to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and to various theaters, guest lectures and visits to Chicago. The point, say Franklin officials, is to educate students beyond traditional classroom fare, mirroring changes in the world and catering to the specific needs of the student body.

Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods recognizes the non-traditional nature of many of its students by offering the Student Mothers Program, which provides day care for students' children ages 2 to 10. Eligible single mothers live with their children in a typical dormitory, which features a playroom for children, a study room for mothers and a kitchen for family use, although mothers and children eat in the campus dining hall.

At nearby Rose-Hulman, engineering students have the chance to serve as interns at small, entrepreneurial companies, thanks to a two-year pilot program initiated this summer. The idea is that by working at smaller firms, interns gain more hands-on experience than they would at large corporations. The companies benefit by getting a closer look at prospective young employees.

Earlham College's president, Richard Wood, is a nationally known Japan specialist, which has resulted in some interesting strengths not only for Earlham but for the surrounding community. Earlham receives federal and state grants to teach Indiana public school teachers how to teach Japanese language and cultural studies. In addition, the college hosts about 80 Japanese teachers every summer for an orientation that precedes two-year teaching appointments at high schools across the country.

Earlham also serves as the Japanese overseas studies agent for about 25 U.S. colleges. The Richmond school also offers the Institute for Education on Japan, which benefits from the college president's intense interest in Japanese language, culture and issues.

"We're about it when it comes to Japanese studies in Indiana," admits Richard Holden, public-information director for Earlham. "Some schools have bigger departments, but it's been a specialty here since the mid-1960s." He adds that the school also assists in attracting Japanese business to Indiana, and in helping Indiana companies do business with those in Japan.

Student performance tends to reflect these kinds of efforts to provide quality education. "Our private colleges graduate a significantly higher percentage of their students," notes Henkel, pointing out Notre Dame's phenomenal 93 percent graduation rate - among the highest in the country. (The national average is 55 percent). Earlham graduates 77 percent of its students, while nearly 80 percent graduate at Rose-Hulman.

Not reflected in these figures is the fact that independent colleges typically graduate students within four to five years. Graduation rates for public institutions generally cover five to six years.

"Private colleges enroll about a fifth of all college students in Indiana, including 24 percent of all undergraduates, and award some 30 percent of all baccalaureate degrees," Henkel says. "They consistently graduate students in less time than public institutions, and those students go on to achieve notably. They contribute in large measure to their communities."

In addition, Indiana's private colleges have garnered high-profile awards. In September, a U.S. News & World Report survey of college administrators named Valparaiso the top regional university in discount tuition prices. Butler University placed third and the University of Evansville seventh in the same report.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Notre Dame ninth among its Top National Universities; Earlham College sixth among its top national liberal arts colleges; Valparaiso and Butler universities second and fifth among the Midwest's top regional universities; and Taylor University fourth among top Midwest regional liberal arts colleges.

Meanwhile, many independent schools are quietly celebrating their own victories, such as Butler University's 30-point rise in entrance SAT scores in 1995.

Olson emphasizes that high academic standards and value aren't the only advantages of attending private schools. Each of the state's independent colleges has a distinct personality. Some of the church-connected colleges are the only ones in the nation of a particular denomination - Grace College, for instance, is the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches only U.S. college, and Oakland City University is the country's only college of the General Baptist denomination.

Some, like Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, have a specialty focus. A national model among engineering schools, Rose-Hulman is considered "one of the best two or three small engineering programs in the country, with SAT scores second only to Notre Dame in Indiana, and still rising," Olson says.

Less well known is the school's long-standing emphasis on the arts. "Rose-Hulman makes a conscious, constant effort to deal with more than a love of numbers ... to develop well-rounded graduates," Olson says.

This year, for the first time, Rose-Hulman is a coed institution. More than 80 women enrolled as freshmen for the 1995-96 school year, and several more transferred from other schools.

Meanwhile, Lutheran College in Fort Wayne was established originally as the educational arm of Lutheran Hospital, and is located on the former grounds of the hospital. A national health-care chain acquired Lutheran Hospital last July, which brought about the complete independence of the college. Lutheran College is a not-for-profit institution that offers both two-year and four-year degree programs.

Though once affiliated solely with Lutheran Hospital, Lutheran College now has educational connections with a number of other area healthcare institutions as clinical providers, including St. Joseph's Medical Center in Fort Wayne and Huntington Hospital. Frank Guzik, Lutheran College's director of admissions, says the school's diversification of clinical providers "gives students a broad range of educational experience."

"Independent higher education in Indiana is a sector that performs exceptionally well, to borrow a business phrase," Henkel says. "Private colleges carry the heart of a classical liberal arts education and a fiber-optic nervous system. They produce well-rounded, discriminating citizens who blend traditional values with the skills to lead our complex society into a new century."
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:Indiana's private colleges and universities
Author:Morgan, Ginger
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 1995
Previous Article:What's for dinner?
Next Article:For-profit colleges.

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