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News and ideas you can use to strengthen rural Minnesota communities.

College = many types of success

sprig by Posted in Tools You Can Use, Vibrant Rural

Classes at many college campuses, including our area’s Minnesota North schools, are getting started. The cost of college makes headlines a lot these days – as it should. Students have shouldered an incredible amount of debt in recent years as they pursued their dreams of school after high school, and Minnesota students and families have been taking on an increasing share of that.

So, do the benefits outweigh the costs?

College Vision, a national nonprofit organization that helps low-income and first-generation college students build a path to college education, provides a snapshot of how college makes a positive difference for students and communities alike.

People who complete a 4-year degree can earn as much as $500,000 more in their lifetime than people with only a high school diploma – and as much as $1 million more if they earn an advanced degree. (Some of those earnings can assist with repaying student loans and other education-related debt.) In addition, college graduates are less likely to face unemployment during their working years, and more likely to qualify for jobs with health benefits – both of which can help keep families out of poverty.

Communities with college graduates also benefit. College-educated residents have more income to spend in the local economy. They also are more likely to be engaged in local community activities and political conversations. They’re more than twice as likely to vote, and are highly unlikely to be incarcerated. All of this adds up to building community wealth – of knowledge, money, stronger social connections, and more.

How does northeast Minnesota stack up?

According to the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), last year just over 15 percent of the region’s residents (outside Duluth) hold a bachelor’s degree. About one-third of posted jobs require a college degree. Jobs most in demand – general internal medicine doctors, pharmacists, training managers, teachers and foresters – paid from $53,000 to more than $150,000 per year.

In addition, low-income students have many opportunities for financial aid and other supports they need to finish college with a lower amount of debt – which means it can take even less time to see the difference a college degree makes. The maximum Federal Pell Grant is nearly $7,000 this year, coupled with state grants and other aid, helps make tuition expenses become much more affordable for low-income students.

Food for thought as this new school year begins.

We wish every student the best year ahead!



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