Supporting students

in accessing higher education


Questions universitaires, a $15 million grantmaking initiative of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, seeks to increase college enrollment rates for Marion County high school seniors, especially for students less likely to enroll in college, including students from low-income households, Black students, and Hispanic and Latino students.

High school students face a variety of challenges when considering college, including accessing coursework that prepares them for college, identifying possible career options, and obtaining financial aid. For students without access to relevant support and resources, these challenges can turn into barriers that keep them from applying to and enrolling in college — furthering existing racial and socioeconomic disparities in education and worsening talent shortages in the Indy region.

To help remove some of these barriers and increase college enrollment, Questions universitaires is awarding grants to Marion County public high schools and community organizations in two phases, Meeting the Moment and Reversing the Trend. The grantees in both phases will use the funding to support Indianapolis students and their families as they navigate the process of exploring, enrolling in and financing college.

Of all 2021 Marion County high school graduates, only 48% enrolled in college, down from 62% just a decade ago. 1
Only 39% of 2021 high school graduates from low-income households in Marion County enrolled in college, compared to 55% of their higher-income peers. 1
45% / 38%
In 2021, Black high school graduates and Hispanic and Latino high school graduates in Marion County were less likely than others to enroll in college, with 45% of Black graduates and 38% of Hispanic and Latino graduates enrolling compared with 63% of their Asian peers and 52% of their white peers. 1
In 2023, only 39% of Marion County seniors completed the FAFSA. 2

1 Indiana College Readiness Dashboard2 Tableau de bord d'achèvement FAFSA


More college graduates needed

Low college enrollment is a challenge to our economic vitality. Indianapolis employers continue to report difficulty finding talent with the education and skills needed to fill open positions. Fewer Marion County residents have college degrees than many of our peer cities, which puts us at a competitive disadvantage when trying to attract new businesses and better jobs.

For individuals, education beyond high school contributes to a higher annual income and improved financial stability. Further, increased educational attainment is associated with increased health, happiness, quality of life and civic engagement.


Grants to support FAFSA completion and college enrollment

À travers Questions universitaires : rencontrer le moment présent, the Foundation awarded nearly $5 million in short-term grants to Marion County public schools, community organizations, and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education in September 2023. These grants provide support to students in two areas: completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) — now a requirement to graduate high school in Indiana — and exploring their college options.

Meeting the Moment: Grants to schools

To assist students and their families in meeting Indiana’s new FAFSA mandate during the 2023-24 and 2024-25 school years, the Foundation awarded a total of $3.25 million in grants to 37 Marion County public high schools within 17 school corporations.*

Meeting the Moment: Grants to community organizations

To reach students and their families in places other than schools, four Marion County community organizations received grants totaling $1.35 million over three years to support students in exploring, enrolling in and financing college.

Organisation communautaireMontant de la subvention
Centre de développement du leadership$300,000
Indiana Noir Expo$300,000
Institut Latino-Indiana$450,000
Ligue urbaine d'Indianapolis$300,000

Meeting the Moment: Grant to Indiana Commission for Higher Education

To fund convenings and facilitate the exchange of information between grantees and the State of Indiana, the Commission de l'Indiana pour l'enseignement supérieur received a three-year, $363,000 grant.


Grants to implement proven college enrollment strategies

To make an even larger impact on the college enrollment rate, the Fairbanks Foundation announced College Matters: Reversing the Trend in December 2023. This phase of College Matters, which seeks to reverse the decline in college enrollment among Marion County high school students, launched a competitive grant process for Marion County public school corporations to apply for funding to implement strategies aimed at increasing college enrollment.

À travers Reversing the Trend, the Fairbanks Foundation is awarding funding in two stages. The first stage, which opened Dec. 5, 2023, and closed Feb. 1, 2024, allowed public school corporations to apply for one of six planning grants to support the development of four-year plans to increase college enrollment. These plans will use proven or innovative strategies to increase college enrollment, with an emphasis on students who are less likely to enroll in college.

From a total of 20 applicants, six school corporations were chosen to receive $20,000 planning grants:

Each of the grantees will receive technical assistance from national research firm Mathematica as they select the appropriate interventions for their schools and develop an implementation plan.

In the second stage of the grant process, which will take place in late July 2024, the six school corporations that received the planning grants will be invited to submit proposals for additional grants of up to $1.5 million each that, if awarded, will support the implementation of their four-year plans. Each grantee can also use this grant money to plan for how they will sustain their work beyond the grant period.


Activity Date 
Informational webinars Jan. 10, 2024, and Jan. 12, 2024
Planning grant applications due Noon EST on Feb. 1, 2024
Planning grantee notification March 25, 2024
Planning grant period March 25, 2024 – July 31, 2024
Implementation grant proposals due July 31, 2024
Implementation grantee notification Sept. 3, 2024
Implementation grant period Sept. 3, 2024 – June 30, 2028


Below, you’ll find a variety of items used to inform the creation of the Questions universitaires initiative, including data sources and relevant research. For more information on Questions universitaires, contactez le personnel de la Fondation au collè

This competitive Request for Applications solicited proposals from eligible Marion County public high schools interested in receiving College Matters: Reversing the Trend planning grant funding.


Schools applying for College Matters: Reversing the Trend planning grants were encouraged to use this template when submitting a line-item budget for the planning grant period.


This Frequently Asked Questions document includes information relevant to schools applying for College Matters: Reversing the Trend planning grants.


This appendix to the College Matters: Reversing the Trend Request for Applications contains summaries of evidence-based interventions that fall under three strategies to increase college enrollment: 1) strengthen college and career counseling; 2) increase families’ financial awareness and help students apply for financial aid; and 3) bolster students’ academic preparation for college.


Cet article de revue met en évidence l'impact de la politique de l'État de Louisiane exigeant l'achèvement du FAFSA comme condition pour obtenir un diplôme d'études secondaires. L'étude démontre que le mandat d'achèvement du FAFSA en Louisiane a conduit à une augmentation de 19 points de pourcentage du taux d'achèvement du FAFSA, associée à une augmentation de 1 à 2 points de pourcentage des inscriptions à l'université.


The College Readiness Dashboard provides interactive data to supplement the annual College Readiness Reports; data is available for the state overall as well as by county, school district and school. The Dashboard includes data for high school graduates from the classes of 2012 through 2021.


Ce rapport met en évidence les données démographiques des diplômés du secondaire en 2019, leur niveau de préparation académique, leurs taux de fréquentation de l'université, les mesures de réussite au début de l'université (diplômés de 2018) et les taux d'obtention du diplôme (diplômés de 2020).


Ce rapport annuel fournit des informations sur le nombre d'étudiants qui obtiennent leur diplôme ou leur certificat dans les collèges et universités publics de l'Indiana. En plus des tendances à l'échelle de l'État, les données sont fournies par campus et par caractéristiques des étudiants.


Le tableau de bord d'achèvement des études collégiales fournit des données interactives pour compléter les rapports annuels d'achèvement des études collégiales ; les données sont disponibles pour l’État dans son ensemble ainsi que par comté, district scolaire et école. Le tableau de bord comprend des données sur les étudiants qui sont entrés au collège à partir de l'automne 2006.


Ce rapport fournit des informations sur les rendements qu'un diplôme universitaire produit après l'obtention du diplôme, qui vont au-delà des avantages financiers. Selon le rapport, les Hoosiers titulaires d'un diplôme universitaire bénéficient d'une plus grande sécurité d'emploi, d'une mobilité sociale accrue, d'un engagement civique accru, d'une santé et d'un bien-être améliorés et d'une meilleure qualité de vie.


Le tableau de bord du rapport sur la valeur du Collège fournit des données interactives pour compléter les rapports sur la valeur du Collège ; les données sont disponibles pour toutes les institutions publiques dans leur ensemble ainsi que par institution publique individuelle, niveau de diplôme et domaine de programme. Le tableau de bord comprend des données sur les étudiants ayant obtenu leur diplôme universitaire à partir de 2008 jusqu'à la promotion de 2017.


Ce rapport fournit une analyse du coût total des études universitaires dans tous les établissements publics de l'Indiana et analyse le niveau d'endettement moyen des diplômés universitaires, ainsi que l'impact de l'aide financière de l'État et du gouvernement fédéral sur la réduction des coûts pour les étudiants et les familles de Hoosier. Les informations sont fournies globalement et par campus.


The Fairbanks Foundation’s free data resource, referred to as the Community Data Snapshot (CDS), includes Marion County- and state-level information on a variety of measures in the Foundation’s focus areas of Education, Health and the Vitality of Indianapolis. Included in the Education section of the Community Data Snapshot are multiple sets of data relevant to Questions universitaires, y compris les taux d'obtention d'un diplôme d'études secondaires, d'études universitaires et de persévérance universitaire, ainsi que les performances au SAT et le type de diplôme d'études secondaires. Bon nombre de ces mesures sont également disponibles sur le CDS au niveau des districts scolaires et des écoles.


Le tableau de bord des diplômés de l'Indiana préparés à réussir, créé par le ministère de l'Éducation de l'Indiana, présente des données au niveau de l'école et du district pour les élèves de Hoosier de la maternelle à la 12e année. Créé après que l'Assemblée générale de l'Indiana a promulgué l'obligation de lancer un tableau de bord des performances scolaires, les informations contenues dans le GPS sont spécifiquement pertinentes pour Questions universitaires comprend l'achèvement du FAFSA et l'emploi/l'inscription (le pourcentage d'étudiants employés dans l'Indiana ou inscrits dans un établissement postsecondaire public de l'Indiana un an après leur année d'obtention du diplôme prévue).