Cities Look To Help As Ivy Tech Funding Gap Grows

By Kayla Moody

Published 02/03 2014 10:58PM

Updated 02/03 2014 11:03PM

Ivy Tech Community College's funding gap is growing. Recent numbers show nearly 20 sites across Indiana are losing money, two of those sites are in Southwestern Indiana.

The Princeton and Tell City Ivy Tech campuses are among 19 sites that are in the red. They're at risk of being shut down and folded in with a nearby location.

"I think it would be a bigger impact than what a lot of people realize," said Sherri Flynn, director of the Tell City campus.

Now communities like Tell City are stepping in to see if they can relieve some of the burden from their financially exhausted campuses. Thursday the Tell City Economic Development Commission will meet to brainstorm ways to lessen Ivy Tech's monthly $61,000 rent and utility bills. If rent costs don't come down, Ivy Tech could shut down some of its financially troubled facilities.

"It's not like you can just drive down the street and say 'Ok, I'll just go to college X.' Because there is no college X," said Flynn.

Students in Tell City would be forced to drive 50 miles to the nearest location in Evansville. But most of the facility's 200 students have jobs and say a three hour round trip wouldn't be possible.

"There's people around here that this is all they have and they can't travel," said student Hunter Sandage. "They have stuff to do. They've got jobs, they've got kids."

Samantha Kiplinger works 10 hours, picks up her son from the baby-sitter, then heads to school. "It's been hard to do but it'd definitely be impossible to do if I had to go to Evansville," said Kiplinger, who adds the thought of the school closing is "heartbreaking."

"If this school wasn't here I would not be able to go to school," said Kiplinger. "My car is not reliable to drive to Evansville and I wouldn't have the time or money to drive to Evansville."

After being injured while serving abroad, veteran John Booker found new purpose in continuing his education -- studying psychology to help other veterans whose mental scars from serving their country run deep.

"Getting a degree and moving forward in a career where I can help other veterans is very challenging but rewarding," said Booker.

Booker tells Eyewitness News his disability, limited income, and responsibilities at home caring for his mother would prevent him from making a lengthy commute to and from Evansville.

"I would just have to quit [school]," said Booker. "There's no two ways about it."

Administrators say there are too many success stories to put a price tag on the facility's worth. They hope no number or dollar sign will ever prevent aspiring students from pursuing their dreams of continuing their education.

City leaders in Princeton are also looking at ways they can financially assist their Ivy Tech campus.

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