From the presidents

 In News, Partners Magazine
Lisa Gibert and Robert Knight

Lisa Gibert and Robert Knight

The current level of borrowing money for colleges and universities across the United States is a staggering $1.2 trillion—with $1 trillion of that being the debt for federal student loans. One in 10 college graduates leave their institution owing more than $40,000, according to Forbes Magazine.

Community colleges are not immune, albeit the debt is much less. Nationally, public, two-year community college debt is in the neighborhood of $7,000; at Clark College our students are averaging $5,100 annually, a little bit below the state of Washington’s community and technical college debt of $5,600 per year.

Economists tell us that this student debt is affecting younger Americans’ ability to buy homes, cars and other essential goods. That’s true for Vancouver too as more millennials—aged 25 to 34—struggle to pay their debts in this post-recession era.

With annual tuition at Clark College about $4,000—depending on the program—the cost of education adds up fast. These statistics motivate us to work even harder to give more individuals access to higher education through scholarships and other opportunities. Last year, Clark awarded nearly $1.2 million in general scholarships such as academic transfer and career scholarships, athletic scholarships and talent awards, just to name a few. Additionally, Clark College Foundation distributed another $620,000 from donors who believe in the power of education.

Our alumni tell us that their Clark education set them on a path to prosperity and opportunity that they otherwise would not have had. They understand first-hand how community colleges are vital to this state. We thank those who have and continue to provide gifts to Clark College. We encourage more of our alumni to contribute in order to do their part to help the current generation of students reduce their debt, thereby allowing the graduates to enter the regional economy on sturdy financial feet.

At Clark, we will continue to do our part by educating students on how to manage the repayment of their loans, counsel them on borrowing and budgeting and provide a plethora of seminars on money matters. Contributing to scholarships so that Clark has the means to offer alternatives to debt for our students will benefit the entire community and infuse vigor into the regional economy.

Lisa Gibert
Clark College Foundation

Robert K. Knight
Clark College

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