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November 16, 2010 1:10 PM Indiana: Give Students Their Money Back

By Daniel Luzer

The governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels recently introduced a plan to essentially pay students who graduate from high school early. According to an article by Can Carden in the Northwest Indiana Times:

The Republican governor said the details of the idea still need to be worked out, but… [he] said he’d like to make early graduation financially rewarding.
Daniels said he plans to ask the Indiana General Assembly to “allow those students who can and wish, their own choice, to complete their graduation requirements in less than 12 years and do so, to have the money or much of the money we would have spent on their 12th grade year available to use for the high cost of higher education.”

Indiana spends about $5,865.78 every year to educate each student in public elementary and secondary schools. Well as long as they’re not in schools, Daniels seems to reason, why not give them the money?

This proposal sounds simple. If you don’t take a senior year, you should be able to collect the money the state would have spent on you. It’s actually more complicated, however. Part of the difficulty is that for many seniors, in Indiana and elsewhere, the senior year of high school is actually already spent taking some version of college courses, which their high schools fully fund. As the article points out:

At the same time, many high school students earn college credit through Advanced Placement courses and dual-credit courses with local universities during their senior year of high school. Those students would need to determine whether it’s more cost-effective to earn college credits for nearly free in high school or whether to take the early graduation cash and start college sooner.

It’s worth pointing out that by the force of Daniels’s logic a high school dropout could attempt to claim “his” $5,800 and use it to start a business. After all, he’s not in school anymore either.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer