The new Health Professions Building was greeted by a visit from a U.S. senator.

Indiana Sen. Mike Braun (R) visited Ball State with President Geoffrey Mearns Wednesday to discuss a variety of topics and see the new Health Professions Building that opened fall 2019.

One of the topics Braun said he came to discuss was higher education and its costs. He said the costs of student debt was $1.4 trillion every year with the number rising over time, drawing similarities with health care costs.

“I think everyone would want to make sure [in] your well being and your education that you do well,” Braun said. “Sadly, you know, its gotten for many families where you can’t afford either one without really starting to strain the budget.”

For higher education, Braun said many degrees that students obtain may not be able to get them a job in the future. 

“Jobs we need to fill mostly in this state would be probably six-months certificate, one-year certificates, associate degrees or higher high school curriculum for a lot of the jobs that are there,” he said. “That doesn’t mean [students] shouldn’t aspire to do what they want to do and pursue a four-year degree.”

Sen. Mike Braun speaks Sept. 4, 2019, in the new Health Professions Building. One of the main topics Braun discussed with President Geoffrey Mearns was higher education costs. Eric Pritchett, DN

Braun said when students are done with college, they should make sure they haven’t “broken the bank to do it,” and that students should get a degree that is “marketable.”

“In the state of Indiana we produce twice as many four-year degrees as we use,” he said. “Some of those degrees, depending on what the major is ... there’s just not a demand for it. So, that means the guidance process and investigation of what you’re going to do with your four years —
you want to make sure that you’ve got plenty of options out there where you are scrambling, and you can’t even find one job.”

Braun said parents would be interested in knowing there is a shortage of electricians, plumbers and truck drivers, and the starting pay is “over half” what you would get with a job with your four-year degree.

Mearns said he met with Braun on a trip to Washington, D.C., last year, where he invited him to come to Ball State to discuss “all the good things” that were happening on campus.

"This is a regular course of what we do ... reaching out to people who have an interest in what's happening at Ball State and certainly he's a very important member of that group,” he said.

Mearns said the benefit of having people come to visit campus was for them to “better appreciate” what makes Ball State’s campus “distinctive.”

“I think what I often hear from students is that we are the right size,” he said. “Which is that we are large, comprehensive university with more than 190 undergraduate majors, a large campus with modern facilities, but yet we’re small enough that we have that collaborative community feel … ”

On Friday, some Indiana General Assembly members will be coming to campus for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Foundational Sciences Building, he said.

“I anticipate there will be more here when we celebrate the grand opening of the Health Professions Building in October,” he said.

Contact Charles Melton with comments at cwmelton@bsu.edu or on Twitter @Cmelton144.