April 7: Postsecondary Costs and Student Career Planning

Spotlight on Schools: Postsecondary Costs and Student Career Planning

April 7, 2017 — Hello Black River Falls Community, this is Dr. Shelly Severson, with the
School District of Black River Falls, here to share this week’s installment of our Spotlight on Schools! I’d like to take today’s spotlight time to talk about the increasing costs of postsecondary education and what the research says about the impact on student career planning. I’d also like to highlight what an incredibly generous community we live in and share my sincere appreciation with the community regarding the number of scholarships available to our graduates.

While new graduates have many options in front of them, a great many of them involve some type of schooling. Whether students choose a two-year college or a four-year university, those costs continue to skyrocket! Here’s a brief summary of the sharp increases:

Forty years ago; 1976 – 1977 school year, the cost of tuition, fees, room and board at a private four year school was averaged at $16,760. A public four year university was averaged at $8,160, and finally a two year college, which did not include room and board, was averaged at $1,190.

Fast forward twenty years to the 1996-1997 school year. The private four year school was $28,140, the public four year university was $10,950 and the two year college averaged $2,250. Zoom again another twenty years, and those that entered most recently in 2016 paid on average $45,370 for four year private tuition and room and board; $20,090 for a public four year university which includes all of the above, and finally $3,520 for a two year college.

As you can imagine, this leaves gaps for many students. This is where the generosity of our community really comes to the rescue! The Black River Falls Area Foundation manages the funds of donors and works collaboratively with the District to award over fifty annual scholarships! The Foundation has been focusing its goals, the past couple of years, on increasing the dollar amount of these scholarships and to encourage donors to consider awarding scholarships in the second and third years of college as well.

While each of the donors was incredibly generous to establish the scholarship, some of them have been established over twenty years ago and the award amounts have not been adjusted. Based on the information I shared above, you can see that perhaps awarding a higher amount during the year may be more impactful for students struggling to make ends meet.

Additionally, there is considerable research that points to the idea that there are quite a few kids, nationally, that begin college with generous scholarship assistance the first year. As the student moves into their sophomore year, the scholarships disappear, and they may need to take time off to work. There is plenty of research that shows once students take time off without attending school, it is significantly more difficult for them to re-engage with coursework toward degree certification.

The philanthropic attitude of several of the Trustees of the Foundation continue to work diligently to not let the cost stand in the way of students receiving the training necessary for them to follow their passions toward their career goals. WTC has recently worked with the Foundation to do a Scholarship Drive for Jackson County students that want to attend any two-year technical college. Through this advocacy, there are more than 20 NEW technical college scholarships for both new graduates and working adults that are interested in going back to Tech to advance their career options. If you have any questions about these scholarships, that stay in Jackson County, please contact WTC directly. If you have questions about any of the other scholarships, you can either contact myself or the HS counseling office.

In keeping with our routine this year, I’d like to share another quote from American Education Week. We asked staff “Why the School District of Black River Falls was the right fit for them?” Amy Olson shared her thoughts: “I had the opportunity to student teach under Jen Dahl and really liked all the staff I came in contact with during my student teaching. When a 1/4 position came open in Elementary Art, Jen called me up and said it would be perfect for me. I had just had Lucas, 6 months prior, and did not want to work full-time yet, so working 3 days a week was the perfect fit for me at the time. Now, 6 yrs. Later, I am working full-time @ the MS and am the head coach for volleyball and girls basketball. I truly believe things have a way of working out for the best.”

As always, if you have any questions about this, or anything else within the district, don’t hesitate to contact me. Thank you so much for your support of the School District of Black River Falls! Go Tigers!


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