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Career financial aid program begins

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INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — A $75 million program created by the Indiana General Assembly to give financial assistance to Hoosier workers looking to increase their education has launched. Accelerate Indiana, which is being administered by Carmel-based INvestED Indiana, provides loans of up to $7,500 for individuals participating in certain job credential programs, with the goal of helping them increase their earnings. The credential programs represent industries such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and IT and business services.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, INvestED Vice President of Marketing Bill Wozniak said Accelerate Indiana fills a gap.

“If there isn’t financial aid available or let’s say federal student loans or something like that, then people in many cases have to just pay out of pocket,” said Wozniak. “So, somebody who may benefit most from a short-term credential, from this type of education, may not have a way to fund it and so when you have money like this available, then the student can get the education, have a way to fund it and because it’s an income share agreement, they don’t have to put the money forward in front.”

The nonprofit developed the criteria for eligibility for both qualified education programs and students. For an education program to be eligible, a credential must be able to be earned within six months, the program must have a six-month graduation rate of at least 75% and a three-month job placement rate of at least 65%.

The programs are provided only by state-authorized colleges, universities, career training programs, technical schools and academies. 

For students to be eligible, they must be at least 18 years of age, an Indiana resident and not currently using the state’s Workforce Ready Grant. Students can receive assistance anywhere between $1,000 and $7,500.

Accelerate Indiana is an income share agreement, meaning students do not have to pay up front. After a six-month grace period, students pay back the loan with 5% of their monthly income. However, they do not have to pay back the loan if they are not making more income than before enrollment or if they are earning less than $42,500 per year.

Wozniak says income share agreements are becoming viewed favorably by more individuals and families.

“There isn’t a cosigner. There isn’t that whole aspect where the clock is ticking and interest is growing right away sometimes, depending on the loan and depending on the terms. So, in this case here, the education is desired. The program receives the funds. The student goes and gets the education and only if the student is earning a certain amount does repayment occur. And then, there is a finite end to when this is all going to conclude and in this case, you have 84 months.”

Wozniak says the specificity of the requirements for education providers to participate is a big positive for the program. He says he expects more providers to join the program as they work to meet those requirements.

You can learn more about Accelerate Indiana by clicking here.