Wes Scheller is a perfect example of the value of low-cost community education to a community.
He wanted more than $1 an hour bagging groceries in 1955. Classes at the old Belleville Junior College got him into Washington University and then a 40-year career in engineering.
That salary raised 10 children. That experience led 18 of his family members to attend the local community college we now know as Southwestern Illinois College.
No. 19 is his 16-year-old granddaughter, Tyme Sampson, who is enrolled in the SWIC Running Start program. She will graduate in 2019 with both a diploma from Collinsville High School and an associate’s degree from SWIC.
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The link between a college degree and lifetime earnings is clear. Fail to finish high school and you’ll be earning $500 a week. Finish high school and that jumps to $750. Finish college and your weekly wage will average $1,150.
So the difference between a high school diploma and a college degree is an extra $24,000 a year. Over a career that’s an extra $1 million in salary, without adjusting for inflation.
That’s a whole lotta taxes, if we can keep those college kids from moving somewhere that doesn’t keep trying to take all of their extra $1 million.