The Union Recorder

Opinion

September 15, 2012

Potential value of an education outweighs any additional costs

MILLEDGEVILLE — The rising cost of tuition, coupled with the increased emphasis on higher education and workforce training and development, add to the value of staying close to home for an education.

We’ve often said Milledgeville and Baldwin County have the unique benefit of being home to three college campuses. The Baldwin County Career Academy continues to prep students for the careers of their choice while they are still in high school in conjunction with Central Georgia Technical College. Local dual enrollment programs are value-added as well.

Recent news that the state’s technical colleges, including Central Georgia Tech, will see a tuition hike next spring is yet another reminder. Tuition for a full, 15-hour course load will cost $1,275 next semester, or $150 more than today, though CGTC leaders say most students will be able to utilize Pell grant funds to cover the cost gap.

The TCSG board also approved a new $50 institutional fee beginning in spring 2013 and a $50 fee for online courses starting in fall 2013, which serves 85,000 students online. A student will pay an average of $223 in fees.

Once the expense of books is added in, usually about $500, the total cost to attend a TCSG college full-time for a semester next year will be just under $2,000. The out-of-pocket cost for students who qualify for the HOPE grant will be about $1,086.

GED testing fees rose July 1 by $32 due to the transition to computer-based testing. State colleges, including Georgia College, are experiencing a 2.5 percent tuition increase this fall following a 3 percent jump last year.

While the increase in tuition and fees related to a college education — and even a GED — have the potential to be disheartening for some students and families already grappling with financial challenges, consider the potential impact of a college education.

A recent report indicates that the odds that a young person in the U.S. will go to college if their parents haven't — 29 percent — are among the lowest of developed countries. The U.S. ranks 14th among 37 countries in the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with a higher education. A generation ago, the U.S. ranked among the top in the world.

If this recent report sounds surprising, factor in the rising dramatic stakes for the U.S. competing for jobs in a global economy and it’s easy to see the value of an advanced education and training in today’s job market and its potential to change the financial course for not only an individual, but an entire family.

It seems there is no added dollar amount equivalent to having in place a skills set that sets the course for a family’s future — skill, coupled with will to succeed. The local educational opportunities available in Baldwin County put the community ahead of the game when compared to other communities, but students and the community mustn’t overlook the possibilities for local options and programs.

The impact of overlooking these potentially high-yielding options — not only on the individual student’s future but also one’s family — far outweighs the cost.

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