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IIWF Releases New Report Detailing Adult Barriers To Education
Updated July 14, 2017 6:47 AM
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(UNDATED) - Many Community Action Agencies have clients who would benefit from upskilling to improve their earning potential, and the time to enroll in post-secondary and adult education programs is just around the corner.

A new report from the Indiana Institute for Working Families (IIWF) describes the non-academic barriers that would-be adult students face when attempting to enroll in and successfully complete post-secondary education and training programs.

While state-level alignment of policies and funding sources is needed to remove these barriers across Indiana, Community Action case managers and staff may be able to find local resources to help clear the jobs pathway for adult students.


Barriers identified by the report include:

  • Insufficient incomes: More than 1 in 3 Hoosiers live below economic self-sufficiency, but even more adults (more than 40 percent) pursuing post-secondary education and training cannot afford basic costs, compared to 29 percent of those not in training.
  • Food insecurity: Worrying about the cost of groceries adds significant stress to adult students and their families. While 26.8 percent of adult students may be eligible for nutrition assistance, only 20.2 percent of these students actually receive it.
  • Housing insecurity and homelessness: Affordable housing is a barrier for would-be adult students, many of whom are low-income. Rent and utilities make up 30 percent or more of the costs that nearly half of Indiana's renters are paying, a major risk factor for housing insecurity. Across the Midwest, 48 percent of community college students are housing insecure, and 12 percent are homeless.
  • Child care issues: It is the largest cost for working families. The cost and lack of access to child care prevents many new parents from starting training programs. The attending rate for adults with children under 5 is only 8.3 percent, while it is 31.4 percent for those with school-aged kids (ages 5 to 17).
  • Competing priorities: Of the adult students attending school, 47 percent of them work full-time on top of school and family responsibilities, and a full 82.3 percent work at least 1 hour per week. Putting the work/study/family ratio out of balance puts completion at risk.
  • Lack of reliable transportation: Only 2.9 percent of adults attending post-secondary programs did so without access to a vehicle. Without reliable access to a vehicle, it's extremely unlikely for adult students to attend and complete school.
  • Increasing necessity of internet access: Only 8.5 percent of adults attending post-secondary programs did so without home internet access, which is now often required for both online and traditional coursework.

See the full report titled Clearing the Jobs Pathway: Removing Non-Academic Barriers to Adult Student Completion.

If you have adult education policy concerns, contact Andrew Bradley at IIWF at (317) 638-4232.

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