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The key to the state’s economic future depends largely on increasing the educational level of our citizens.
Mississippi’s per capita income lags the nation and our area of the state is below even the state average. Much of the problem can be traced to the lack of enough education to get and retain good jobs. A high school graduate earns only 48 cents for every dollar that a college graduate earns.
That’s not a new thought, but increasingly, it is one that is being understood and valued by families throughout our state.
It is evident in the new enrollment figures at Mississippi colleges and universities, which show that enrollment is up almost everywhere. Enrollment at the University of Mississippi is up 7.1 percent. At Mississippi State University, it is up 5.6 percent. Enrollment also is up at community colleges.
And enrollment is up despite tuition increases at most of the schools, and cuts in programs and services. The schools have had to make do with less because of a significant decline in state support of education, including higher education.
Additional state cuts are expected in the coming year because of the end of federal stimulus funds, which state officials have used to prop up the state government during the economic downturn.
Mississippians are recognizing the importance of investing their money in getting a quality education for their children, even if the state leadership is not. An educated populace is the number one driver of economic growth and improvements in our quality of life.