President Milliken visits Kearney, York high schools
University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken visited two Nebraska high schools in September to talk with students about the importance of higher education and the resources available to help them pay for college.
During his visit to Kearney High School on Sept. 1, Milliken was accompanied by two KHS graduates, Liz Martinez and Janelle Beutler, who now attend the University of Nebraska at Kearney with support from Collegebound Nebraska, NU’s signature tuition assistance program. For his visit to York High School on Sept. 15, Milliken was joined by Bekah Miller, a York High graduate who is now a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Miller receives support from Collegebound Nebraska as well as the Susan T. Buffett Foundation.
In remarks to each student body, Milliken noted that postsecondary education brings benefits to both the individual and society. People with college degrees earn, on average, $1 million more over a lifetime than those with only a high school education, Milliken said. College graduates also enjoy better health, are more likely to vote and volunteer in their communities, are less likely to divorce or rely on public assistance, and have children who are more likely to go on to college.
Milliken urged students to take advantage of the opportunities college provides to find out what they love to do and how they can turn that into a career – whether it’s teaching, medicine, entrepreneurship or something else. He encouraged students to enhance their classroom experience by studying abroad, participating in service learning, conducting research or joining student organizations that match their interests.
Nebraska’s need for a college-educated workforce is significant. A new Georgetown University report ranks Nebraska seventh in the nation in the percentage of jobs in 2018 that will require postsecondary education. But while Nebraska’s high school graduation rate is No. 2 in the country, its college-going rate ranks 18th.
The University of Nebraska’s highest priority is affordable access, and the university is working hard to ensure that cost is not a barrier to any student who is academically qualified to attend. Milliken touted the Collegebound Nebraska program, which makes a great promise to Nebraska students: If you qualify for a federal Pell Grant, and if you meet NU’s admission requirements, you can attend the University of Nebraska and pay no tuition. Generally, a family of four with one in college and an income of about $53,000 or less will qualify for Collegebound Nebraska support.
Other financial aid resources include the Susan T. Buffett Foundation, which provides scholarships to students attending any Nebraska public college or university; Regents Scholarships; and millions of dollars’ worth of private financial aid. Milliken urged students to talk to their parents, counselors, teachers and college financial aid officers to maximize their scholarship opportunities.
Milliken also encouraged students to visit as many college campuses as possible to find the college that’s right for them – whether it’s a small school or big, private or public, and what kind of academic programs are offered. He briefly shared information about each of NU’s four campuses.
The NU students who joined Milliken on his visits said they likely wouldn’t have been able to afford a four-year university without Collegebound Nebraska.
Miller, the oldest of six children and a pre-dentistry major, said she had a joke that she became best friends with her high school counselor during her senior year – and she encouraged York High students to do the same.
“I have a pretty simple message for you today,” she said. “My message is this: that college is possible. And I’m proof.”