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June 23, 2013

Study: Few local college grads

Partnerships could help Cass Co. earn more degrees, officials say.

Just 21.76 percent of Cass County residents ages 25 to 64 have at least a two-year degree, according to a recent Lumina Foundation report, which used 2011 census data. The number rose 1.36 percent in the last year.

Only 16 other Indiana counties had lower percentages. Cass County’s rate is also below the statewide rate of 33.8 percent, a figure that ranks Indiana in the bottom 10 states by degree attainment in 2011. Nationwide, the average is that 38.7 percent of all working-age residents have at least a two- or four-year degree.

In 2009, the Lumina Foundation made a goal of having the nationwide average to 60 percent by 2025, a target it says the country must hit to provide the workforce needed for the jobs that will be available.

Cass County education leaders say the community can improve the number of Cass County degrees.

“In the community we need to have more business partnerships with schools,” said James Little, director of the Century Career Center in Logansport. “For an example, I had a meeting with a local business looking at partnering with the career center to appoint future employees.”

Little said the career center is trying to give students exposure to different careers and align the curriculum so they can get credit toward college.

Little said in the past year, 370 students took classes at the career center and 1,464 college credits were earned.

“That is $23,000 worth of saved money,” Little said. “We’re trying to get them prepared to go into a college program. Our grad rates were 95.7 percent for students who attended career center this past year.”

Tami McMahan, Trine University Logansport director, said she would like to see more employers offer tuition reimbursement. McMahan said the satellite campus has a master’s program for any student working for an organization connected with the chamber of commerce. Those students receive $150 off each credit.

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