Thinking About the Cost of College

Rachel Wise, District 3, Nebraska State Board of Education (April, 2016)

One of the highlights of serving on the Nebraska State Board of Education is attending a variety of activities and statewide events as well as those happening in District 3. On March 29th, I had the opportunity to attend two events that will continue to shape my thinking as a member of the State Board.

First, I attended a presentation and panel discussion hosted by the Buffett Early Childhood Institute. The theme—Nebraska should be the best state in the country for babies to grow up—an important goal that we should all strive to reach. The Buffett Early Childhood Institute shared a study conducted by Gallup that included a survey of more than 7,100 Nebraska residents, representing a wide array of citizens from across the state. The key findings showed Nebraskans: recognize the importance of early care and education; do not believe high-quality early care is available or affordable for all Nebraska families; report deficiencies in early care and education both in their area and in the state; want a greater investment in quality early care and education; and, support early care and education for children most in need. One of my “aha” moments was comparing the cost of early childhood care to the cost of college. Some families spend more per year on early child care than others do on the annual tuition of a student attending a public college or university in Nebraska. More information can be found at

The second event on March 29th was a presentation by University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds to Lincoln High School juniors on a new initiative called “Commit to Complete.” The purpose of this university-wide initiative is to help students understand that they can make college more affordable by graduating in four years. Estimates showed that college tuition debt increased 20 percent for every year of college beyond 4 years. President Bounds also noted that few students who attend college more than six years actually finish a degree. President Bounds encouraged students to visit with an advisor, make a plan, to stay on track and graduate sooner. He also encouraged students to take Advanced Placement classes and taking dual credit courses while in high school and to decide on a college major as soon as possible. He said the University of Nebraska is committed to student success, to making advisors available to help guide students to completing college in four years and to ensuring that classes are available when students need to take them. To learn more, go to

At the April Nebraska State Board of Education meeting, Commissioner Blomstedt provided an overview and update on Accountability for a Quality Education System Today and Tomorrow (AQuESTT), which is Nebraska’s accountability system. The Nebraska Department of Education will hold an April 18th and 19th conference to help schools across the state continue to improve by focusing on every student every day and by providing quality educational experiences aligned with a system of accountability. The Commissioner also provided a roadmap for the 2016-2017 transition year for assessment and state testing in Nebraska. In the coming school year, we will cut back on some state testing while continuing to meet requirements and develop a plan to meet new state and federal laws.

One final note, the State Board also adopted a resolution joining other state officials in proclaiming May 13, 2016 as State Fire Day in Nebraska. On this very windy day, I want to thank the many individuals who risk their lives and volunteer their time and talents to respond to fires and keep us safe!

This article represents my personal view, not that of the State Board of Education or my role as president. Feel free to contact me at Search the Nebraska Department of Education website at to learn more about education in our state.

Rachel Wise

Rachel Wise



About katcountryhub
I am a graduate of Northeast Community College with a degree in journalism. I am married to Jeff Gilliland. We have two grown children, Justin and Whitney and four grandchildren, Grayce, Grayhm, Charli and Penelope. I will be covering Lyons, Decatur, Bancroft and Rosalie and am hoping to expand my horizons as time progresses!

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