You Can. Go Back.

Indianapolis, IN

Enacted by the 2015 General Assembly, You Can. Go Back. is a statewide campaign that aims to help the 750,000+ Hoosier adults with some college but no degree finish what they started. With $7.5 million in state grants available for adult students, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (CHE) is reaching out to Hoosiers directly and connecting them with Indiana colleges that are committed to eliminating barriers for returning adults. Many colleges are offering special programs and incentives—including flexible class schedules and online courses, college credit for work and military experience, grade- and debt-forgiveness programs— as well as scholarships and tuition discounts. State grants of $1,000 will be available on a first come, first serve basis for qualifying students.


The Indiana Commission for Higher Education is intentionally and directly engaging the roughly 750,000 working age adults who have completed some college but no degree. These Hoosiers had aspirations to earn a degree, but for one reason or another, stopped short of meeting their educational goals. In February 2016, the Commission launched You Can. Go Back. to help these Hoosier adults finish what they started. Direct outreach sits atop a strong infrastructure to support returning adults: 1) Institutions have designated ambassadors to assist with re-enrollment, 2) a College Match website and lead delivery dashboard have been created to connect returning adults with ambassadors at best-fit colleges, 3) the state is offering $1,000 grants to cover tuition costs, and 4) institutions are offering a variety of incentives for returning adults including tuition discounts, debt and grade forgiveness and college credit for work and military experience. The Commission is using a multi-faceted approach to outreach: direct mail, emails, personal phone calls and other promotional materials such as posters and handouts direct students to the College Match website and our Learn More Indiana website where other resources for returning adults will be available: learnmoreindiana.org/adults. The College Match website is an interactive application to help students identify all the schools that support their career interest and match their needs. Students are matched after specifying their desired field of study, degree, learning style and travel distance. Students then simply select the schools they are interested in to receive an email with complete details on special programs available to them and a central point of contact trained and dedicated to working with returning students. Legislation passed in 2015 ensured that all seven public institutions participated, from our singly-accredited community college system to our research institutions. From our private sector, 24 independent colleges also volunteered to partner on the effort. Phase One of the direct outreach targeted the most likely completers: adults who stopped out of college in the last 10 years and have completed at least 15 credit hours. Former students received postcards, emails and phone calls encouraging them to return to college and helping them get started. This outreach effort spanned from February to April 2016 and has generated significant interest. Of the roughly 125,000 people contacted, over 17,000 visited the College Match website and over 4,000 have been connected with one or more institutions. This phase was funded through the Federal College Access Challenge grant and a grant from the Lilly Endowment. Phase Two will focus on the next priority population of Hoosiers who have been out of college 11-30 years. Like Phase One, we will employ a three-fold approach to direct outreach. Beyond that, Phase Two will put in place partnerships with employers, state and local government agencies, political leaders and community groups. These partnerships will create several new communication channels to reach our target population through the employers and civic leaders they know and trust. Our outreach with employers in particular is designed to create another set of incentives and supports—from tuition reimbursement to flexibility with schedules—to help our target population reach their educational goals. The Commission is also engaging community and local partners, state legislators and state government agencies to reinforce the message. With strong support from Governor Pence’s administration, we have already secured partnerships with several state agencies serving a natural audience for this message: our Department of Workforce Development which runs unemployment offices, our Family and Social Services Agency which has over 100 family services offices and our State Personnel Department which oversees all human capital for state government. Finally, the Commission is engaging employers statewide to provide a variety of support to their employees. With partnerships already in place through the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the Commission is reaching out to a broad group of Indiana employers to solicit them to be active partners.

Expected Outcomes: 

--Creation of a statewide campaign to raise public awareness of incentives and grants that support adult students, highlighting the importance of post-secondary degree attainment in Indiana’s workforce. --Have 200,000 adults return and complete a post-secondary credential by 2020 --Responses from 20,000 adults with 5,000 leads generated on the College Match website --Have 10,000 adults apply for financial aid/Adult Student Grant

Liz Walker
Policy and Planning Program Manager
Additional Contacts: 

Josh Garrison, Director of Policy and Legislation Zach Smith, Policy Analyst