Blackburn College doubles down on its commitment to Macoupin County

Blackburn College doubles down on its commitment to

The Issue: When students go off to college, they often don’t come back.

Our View: Not only will Blackburn College give them a reason to stay, it will raise the educational bar for all of us.

CARLINVILLE (Sept. 21, 2017) – At a time when people and businesses seem to be fleeing Illinois at an alarming rate, Blackburn College has come forward to make an exceptionally deep investment in the people– especially the youth– of Macoupin County.

Macoupin County was founded in 1829. Less than a decade later (1837), Blackburn College came into existence and has served the area ever since. Given that Carlinville wasn’t incorporated until 1865, it stands as one of the longest existing institutions in the county. Many of us are who we are, in part, because we either attended the college, were raised by people who attended it or were taught by people who received an education there. Frankly, most families living in the county more than a generation or two have likely been affected by Blackburn College.

Whis week, the college has doubled down on its commitment to Macoupin County by announcing its plan to offer a tuition-free program for local students. Macoupin County students whose families make less than $60,000 will be able to attend the school tuition free. Although students will still have to meet the school’s standard admission requirements, the move will remove financial barriers.

Further, the college will meet the financial needs of all students by recognizing their estimated family contribution (EFC) as the only cost required from the student. The move creates an equitable method of aligning education costs with the student’s ability to pay. Students are given their EFC when they file the free application for federal student aid.

This initiative will likely have a dynamic impact on the college, the city of Carlinville and the whole county. A Blackburn press release issued last week pinpointed the importance of such a program. When high school graduates head off to their college of choice, which is often out of the area or even out of state, there’s a good chance they will not have a local permanent residence again. When they get away, they often stay away.

With their announcement, Blackburn College gives local kids a reason to stay. It will help keep Macoupin County’s best and brightest in the county. It may also encourage families to move here to establish residency so they can take advantage of the program. The more people who move to the area, the more the local economy will grow. A growing economy will attract more businesses. More businesses mean more jobs. An educated populace will increase the quality of available jobs.

Blackburn College is a leader when it comes to higher education. It is the only college in the state with a student-managed work program and one of only eight in the nation. Only six percent of this country’s colleges and universities offer this sort of financial support.

Students graduate from Blackburn knowing how to hold down a job. They not only get a top-notch education, they get the opportunity to establish a work ethic before entering the workforce, which makes them even more valuable to employers.

We applaud Blackburn College for taking this bold and innovative step in higher education. We expect the benefits of this program will trickle down through the communities of Macoupin County and will lift up anyone who thinks a quality education is out of reach.