By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R) from Alabama on Thursday announced that the Department of Education has awarded $5,411,597 in Educational Talent Search Program grants to Alabama Community Colleges.
Senator Shelby said, “Investing in the education of young Americans is of primary importance. These grants will help advance some of Alabama’s brightest students from disadvantaged backgrounds to ensure that young people who have the potential to succeed in institutions of higher learning have the opportunity to do so.”
Of the $5,411,597 awarded: $629,380 went to Alabama Southern Community College, $314,436 was awarded to Alabama State University, Bevill State Community College/ Walker received $314,962, $257,769 for Bishop State Community College, $321,964 went to Central Alabama Community College, $314,319 was awarded to Faulkner University, $578,601 went to Gadsden State Community College, $334,385 went to George C. Wallace Community College in Selma, $260,206 was awarded to George C. Wallace Community College/ Sparks, Jefferson State Community College received $233,000, the North Alabama Center for Educational Excellence was awarded $466,413, $486,872 was awarded to Northwest Shoals Community College, $256,146 went to Southeast Alabama Education Outreach Center, the University of South Alabama received $303,243, and Wallace State Community College in Hanceville received $342,901 of the grant money.
According to Shelby’s statement, “The Educational Talent Search Program identifies and assists individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in higher education. The program provides academic, career, and financial counseling to its participants and encourages them to graduate from high school and continue on and complete their postsecondary education. The program publicizes the availability of financial aid and assists participants with the postsecondary application process. The program also encourages persons who have not completed education programs at the secondary or postsecondary level to enter or reenter and complete postsecondary education.”
In related U.S. Department of Education news, the Education department released new numbers on state by state college attainment levels on Thursday. Alabama’s 2010 numbers showed improvement from the 2009 numbers. In 2010, 189,259 (31.5%) of Alabama’s 25 to 34 year old had earned a college degree (defined as an associates degree or higher). This was up for 188,258 (31.1%) in 2009. President Barack Obama’s goal for the state is 262,000-337,000 (47%-60%) by 2020.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “To meet the president’s goal for America to become No. 1 in the world for college graduates all of us—the federal government, states, and institutions—must work together. We’ve made some progress, but the combination of deep state budget cuts and rising tuition prices is pushing an affordable college education out of reach for middle class families. As the President has said, the countries that out-educate today will out-compete us tomorrow. The federal government has done a tremendous amount to increase the amount of aid available to students. But we need states and institutions to meet us halfway by doing more to keep college costs down.”
Among neighboring states, 35.5% of 25-34 year olds in Georgia have a college degree. The percentage in Florida is 36.2%. In Mississippi 32.1% have degrees. In Tennessee the percentage is 32.8%. Alabama (31.5%) has a higher percentage of 25-34 year old with degrees than Oklahoma (30.8%), Louisiana (30.3%), West Virginia (29.5%), New Mexico (28.7%), Arkansas (28.6%) and Nevada (28.4%). The states with the highest percentages of 25-34 year olds with degrees are the District of Columbia (68.8%), Massachusetts (54.3%), North Dakota (50.8%), Minnesota (49.8%), New York (49.6%), and New Jersey (47.2%) .
Nationally the percentage increased from 38.8% in 2009 to 39.5% in 2010. The administration’s goal is that 58 to 60% of 25-34 year olds will have earned degrees in 2020. That would be an increase of almost 11 million graduates. Where the nation will find jobs for that many additional college graduates is not addressed in the report.
Senator Shelby is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Sen. Shelby is the senior Senator from Alabama.
To see Senator Shelby’s grant announcement:
To read the Department of Education announcement: