Judging from the amount of graduation announcements in my mailbox, it’s gotta be high school graduation season.
Graduating from high school is a big deal. Especially when stats prove that one in five Oklahoma students never walk across the stage. And those that do struggle to afford an education that prepares them for a world beyond high school.
While high school graduation season is certainly an exciting time, it’s also a season for tough decisions for too many Oklahoma families unable to afford the pricetag of college and career training.
In addition to my work at Stand, I also spend time working with high school and college students at my church. Earlier this week, I spoke with a high school senior trying to decide which college to attend. Jessica had narrowed down her options and told me she was concerned about having enough money to afford college.
In her head she had constructed a simple equation to make her decision easier. She added the scholarships she received plus the grants she'd be eligible for and how much she would need to cover from her part-time job.
For her, the decision came down to math and a simple question — can I even afford to go to college?
I watched as her father stood by smiling apprehensively and could only imagine the thoughts running through his head as he too was doing the math.
During our conversation I had an overwhelming urge to do something to help this student, and to be honest I felt helpless. But then I remembered I actually am doing something — and every Oklahoman can do the same to ensure more families can afford to send their children to college. It’s pretty simple — vote yes in November for State Question 779.
Our colleges and universities have been cut by more than $100 million in the last year alone.
And those cuts were passed on to people like Jessica through tuition increases. Because our colleges and universities have been cut so deeply, families like Jessica’s have had to bear the brunt of those cuts through a 13 percent increase in tuition just since 2011. This leaves too many college students buried in debt during a critical time in their life.
State Question 779 will help restore some of this funding so colleges and universities don’t have to raise tuition, making higher education affordable again for Oklahoma families.
I’ll leave you with this thought. If Jessica graduates college, she’ll make a million dollars more in her lifetime. And when that happens, our entire state prospers.
I hope you’ll join me in November and help make college more affordable for all the Jessicas out there by by voting Yes on State Question 779.