Leveraging Higher Education to Help Escape Poverty

It’s no secret. The cost of higher education continues to rise, even during the economic recession. In North Carolina, the average cost of attending two- and four-year public and private colleges (including tuition and other education-related expenses) increased at a rate greater than inflation. Consequently, the educational prospects for many youth have been limited. 

According to an Action for Children North Carolina report, poor and working-class families must devote 32 percent (one-third) of their income, even with assistance, to pay for costs at two-year colleges. Financial stress (and the desire to avoid poverty) undermines students’ efforts to complete their degree programs. Indeed, nearly half of all four-year college students drop out of college within six years of enrolling. The share of North Carolina residents who had some college, but no degree, increased 2.5 percentage points between 2007 and 2009. College graduates entering the workforce during the recession will earn less over their lifetimes. 

Residents and students desiring to seek post-secondary education have a long-term goal to place themselves in a position to increase their wages, escape extreme poverty, and rise above low-income status. Unfortunately, to cover the rising cost of college, many young people find themselves increasingly reliant on debt to finance their education; adding additional stress to their already stressful lives. In order to meet the workforce demands of the future, North Carolina’s young people must adapt to an increasingly competitive labor market – one that requires post-secondary education or training. 

How can you help? Partner with local organizations to provide consultations, counseling and training to encourage high school graduates to seek higher education. To learn more about how you can help and TAKE ACTION to ERADICATE POVERTY, visit www.nccaa.net.

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