Congratulations to Blaine County School District's graduates of the class of 2011 for their extraordinary achievement of 100 percent of them applying for higher education. The graduates are to be commended for their efforts and our sincere appreciation extended to the hard-working counselors, teachers and school administrators that made this achievement a reality.
Many of our students are the first of their families to graduate from high school—for them to potentially attend an institution of higher learning is huge. Although some students ultimately may not attend college or other institutions for further training, the process illustrates the possibilities that are available to all students, and hopefully encourages future generations to seek continued schooling. Applying for post-secondary education is a major milestone, but once students are accepted, they and their families are faced with the reality of paying for it. When we examined the colleges our local students are planning to attend, it seemed likely that their choices may be based in part on economic realities.
The Works of Grace Foundation has given more than 75 scholarships to local students over the past 10 years. We were surprised this year to learn how much costs have escalated for students to attend out-of-state schools, particularly in light of the economy. One of our key interview questions was how our applicants intended to bridge the gap between tuition/housing and scholarships, family funding and personal funding.
Unfortunately, several students felt they had no choice but to incur tens of thousands of dollars of debt just for an undergraduate degree! In this fragile economy and tough competitive environment, we can only speculate how challenging it will be to pay back these loans.
For some students, attending an "expensive" university is the right decision, but we congratulate those students who made the choice to attend a more affordable Idaho college. For students who ultimately incur significant school debt, we hope that the college degree they receive will result in a higher paying job and return on their investment.
These are not easy choices and, no matter what path our graduates choose, we wish them all a bright and successful future.
Administrator, board member
The Works of Grace Foundation