Reaching economic independence

by Paul Czarapata - June 28, 2022

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce recently shared its 10 Rules of Moving from Youth Dependency to Adult Economic Independence and it made me think about how we help Kentuckians do that. Everything we do is focused on helping people achieve economic independence so they and their families can have better lives. 

Rule number three of Georgetown’s 10 is: “Get more postsecondary education if you can, because more education typically pays better and yields better employee benefits than less education.” Although I agree with all their rules, to me, this is the most important one. 

It’s hard to believe with today’s inflation and employers’ needs for skilled workers, we continue to hear that some people don’t think higher education is important to their success. Sure, Kentuckians are earning better hourly wages in low skill jobs right now. But do they really want to continue working an entry-level position throughout their career? Because without further education, their chances of advancement are less likely. 

Our recent research shows the cost of college is a concern as is return on investment for some. However, KCTCS students pay less than half of what most university students pay and nearly 80 percent of our students receive some type of financial aid, which is mostly grants and scholarships that don’t have to be repaid. For those who do borrow, their loans are typically less than $5,000. 

As for ROI, an Emsi study on KCTCS conducted in fiscal year 2018-19 showed: 

“In return for their investment, students will receive $3 billion in increased earnings over their working lives. This translates to a return of $6.60 in higher future earnings for every dollar students invest in their education. Students’ average annual rate of return is 23.9%.”

I know our students have complicated lives and sometimes not having money for gas, rent or childcare can keep them from enrolling in or continuing college. I’m proud to announce that all 16 of our colleges are working with Family Scholar House to help with issues like these and many others. And the best news about Family Scholar House is that they provide all their services at no cost to students or our colleges. 

I’m passionate about helping more Kentuckians increase their education attainment levels, reach economic independence and better their lives. Our colleges offer a plethora of ways to do that. Reach out to your local college to see what they can do for you. 

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