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50th Anniversary State of Education Series
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
How all Americans hold a stake in college graduation
When Scholarship America® was founded by optometrist Dr. Irving Fradkin in the late 1950s, the average tuition at public universities was just $200, but still families struggled to send their children to college. Today, tuition has increased at twice the rate of inflation while at the same time family incomes are stagnating. Over the past thirty years, the demand for college educated workers has outpaced supply, as the United States has dropped from first in the world to twelfth in terms of the percentage of adults with college degrees. By 2025, the United States needs to add 20 million college educated workers in order to regain its number one position.
Every American has a stake in the number of college graduates (including those from community colleges, trade schools and other postsecondary programs) our nation produces every year. Over the past 30 years, the demand for college-educated workers has outpaced supply while, at the same time, the United States has dropped from first in the world to twelfth in percentage of adults with college degrees. We will need to add 20 million postsecondary-educated workers to the economy by 2025 if we are to regain our number-one global position in college graduates.
Unfortunately, although the United States’ economy has begun to recover from the great recession, its effects on college enrollment and students are still considerable:
- Less state aid for public colleges usually translates into a tuition increase for students. The average expected increase for the 2011-12 academic year is 4.5 percent – a little less than in recent years, but still hard to handle, especially with increases in costs for room and board, and stagnating or declining family incomes.
- More traditional-age students are choosing community colleges over a more expensive four-year school, which is also putting a strain on that system.
- Fewer low-income students are attending college. According to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, for every $1,000 in tuition increase, enrollment among low-income students drops 5 percent.
- This year, student loan debt will skyrocket to $1 trillion as the cost of tuition and everyday goods continues to rise – and for the second consecutive year, be higher than our national credit card debt.
On top of all this, job prospects for recent college grads today are low. As a result, many students and parents are wondering whether the expense of college is worth it anymore. However, job prospects for those without degrees is downright dismal: the unemployment rate for high-school graduates is 9.4 percent, compared to just 4.2 percent for those with college degrees.
College graduates enjoy additional benefits of their education, including higher salaries and greater job satisfaction.
Ultimately, our communities reap great rewards from increased postsecondary degree completion. More education for more people means higher salaries for all workers. And, if we add those 20 million educated workers by 2025, we’ll boost America’s GDP by $500 billion, add more than $100 billion in tax revenues and begin to reverse income disparity between those with degrees and those without.
There is a wealth of financial aid opportunity for students who take the time to look and who complete their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) annually – federal and state grants; subsidized, unsubsidized and private loans; and scholarships. In fact, there may be as much as three billion dollars in scholarships available annually through corporations, foundations and community groups!
It behooves us to create the opportunities and environment necessary for every American to achieve an education beyond high school. College is expensive, but the expense of an under-educated citizenry is far greater.
Since our founding over fifty years ago, Scholarship America has awarded a grand total of 2.7 billion dollars to more than 1.8 million students through our programs. We’re proud of all we’ve accomplished in the last fifty years, but we know we need to do more to help students at such a critical time. This fall, Scholarship America is launching our long-range strategic plan. We have big goals focused on student success.
Our overall goal is to assist no less than 750,000 students in completing their education beyond high school with a manageable level of debt through our programs by 2025. To do this, we will focus on four main program goals related to our core programs and services: Dollars for Scholars®, Dreamkeepers®, Scholarship Management Services® and our new National Scholarship Fund. To learn more, watch the video below and read on.
1. We must transform our national grassroots movement of Dollars for Scholars chapters to focus on completion and debt reduction. Today, most scholarships in America are geared toward incoming freshman, one-time awards that help them get started but leave them holding larger tuition bills or worse—needing to drop out because they simply can’t afford to continue. Scholarship America believes multi-year scholarships are critical to helping students complete their education beyond high school. We’ll be working with our chapters to move in that direction.
2. We must enhance the ability of colleges to drive completion through aggressive expansion and wide adoption of our Dreamkeepers program, which provides emergency financial support to students enrolled in participating colleges who are at risk of dropping out of school due to an unexpected financial emergency. We’ve found that grants as small as $500 can keep students on the path to completion.
3. We must continue to grow and enhance our Scholarship Management Services division and become the lead provider of corporate talent development services while maintaining our market dominance in the scholarship management field.
4. Finally, Scholarship America is launching fundraising for a new national scholarship fund this year with the first awards being distributed for the 2013-2014 academic year. Scholarship America’s national fund is a unique scholarship for a few reasons. Students will be eligible to receive funding after successfully completing their first year of postsecondary education. It will also be a renewable and growing scholarship, with award amounts increasing every year to encourage and reward educational persistence. The launch of this fund will fulfill our mission and provide tangible progress of student completion rates and debt reduction, raise Scholarship America’s brand awareness and long-term donor loyalty, and advance relationships among and between our Dollars for Scholars chapters through an incentive and matching award program.
We are committed to helping more students graduate from college with less debt. Join us in our mission to make postsecondary education possible for all students.
College graduation rates in America are at an all-time low of 50 percent and only 40 percent of American adults hold at least a two-year degree. Though we were once first in the nation in terms of the number of adults who hold college degrees, today we are number twelve. By 2018, America will be 3 million degrees short for the job forecast requirements. And the number one reason cited by students for dropping out of postsecondary programs before graduation is finances. In response, Scholarship America has expanded its focus beyond providing access to an education beyond high school, to helping students complete their postsecondary degree programs.
Scholarship America’s National Fund, launching as a pilot program next year, will be a multi-year scholarship, renewable for up to four years. Students are eligible once they have completed their first year of post-secondary education. Students must demonstrate leadership, academic achievement, service to their community, have overcome an obstacle to their success, and have demonstrated financial need.
Initial scholarships will be offered in the following award amounts but will increase as the fund grows: $2,000 for year two (the first year awarded), $3,000 for year three, and $4,000 for years four and five (maximum of $13,000 per student over four years). Scholarship Americaplans to allocate fifty percent of all donated funds to this program to the endowment, unless otherwise specified by the donor. This will help sustain the renewable and growing nature of these multi-year scholarships.
In addition to the national scholarships given directly to qualifying students, this Fund will work to drive completion rates on a local level as well. A portion of the funds raised for this program will be allocated to support Dollars for Scholars chapters to develop and deliver a companion renewable scholarship program at the local level, and adopt other completion and debt reduction strategies and build fundraising capacity.
Katie Couric has led initial funding for this effort by committing the proceeds of her book, The Best Advice I Ever Got. Additional funding has been provided by the Liu Family Foundation and a cause marketing promotion with Saks Fifth Avenue. In addition, planned gifts are now in place that begin to secure the new Scholarship America National Fund in perpetuity.
“I am immensely proud of our organization’s history and impact, but I know that we can do more for student’s in our nation at this time of great need. Tuition and room and board continues to increase more quickly than the rate of inflation at the same time that family incomes are stagnating or even declining,” said Lauren A. Segal, President and CEO of Scholarship America. “We believe that multi-year scholarship awards are critical to helping students complete their education beyond high school.”
Cause marketing partnerships across the nation continue to help Scholarship America reach more students. Current partners include:
- Alliant Credit Union
The Alliant Credit Union Foundation’s mission is to promote economic empowerment and self-sufficiency in people in communities where Alliant Credit Union members live and work, through education, service, grants and investments.
To celebrate the Foundation’s third year, they are asking members to help them decide how $40,000 will be distributed among four charities, including Scholarship America. For more information, visit www.alliantpromos.org/MakeitCount.
- AXA Equitable
AXA Equitable’s Pass it On! Game and Sweepstakes provides a new way to learn about the importance of life insurance, a chance to win $25,000, and an easy way to help out Scholarship America – at each level of the game, players have the opportunity to vote for one of three charities to determine their total grant from the AXA Foundation.
To play, visit www.axa-equitable.com/life-insurance/life-game.html.
- North American Power
One of the nation’s fastest-growing retail electricity suppliers, North American Power places community at the center of its mission. Through their Mission to Millions program, new customers can select a charity (including Scholarship America) from a list of participating organizations to receive $1 on their behalf each time they pay their bill. Visit www.napower.com/m2m to learn more.
ChapterNet Rollout Coming Soon
At Dollars for Scholars conferences across the country, Scholarship America is helping volunteers set up websites and put their scholarship program online through ChapterNet, Scholarship America’s new technology platform.
ChapterNet is designed to tie together chapter, state, regional, and national information in order to create a more efficient and effective chapter. It allows a website to be customized for specific needs and creates an online, automated scholarship application and matching process. Chapter administrative tools offer assistance in scholarship management, student tracking, and the ability to communicate easily with donors and volunteers.
The implementation of ChapterNet will allow chapters to better serve students, volunteers, and the goals of the organization.
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