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5/18/2006 - Jackson, Miss

Mississippi could dramatically improve its economy and reduce social welfare and other costs by improving access to higher education, according to a report presented today to the Board of Trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL).  The Board opened its monthly meeting by attending the taping of Mississippi’s Mandate: Why the Investment in Education Pays Off in Mississippi, prepared and presented by the Institute for Higher Education Policy in Washington and sponsored by USA Funds.

The report outlines the economic and social benefits produced by education, not only for the public good, but for the individual.  Like other studies, the Mandate indicates that income is significantly higher for those with bachelor’s degrees compared to high school graduates.  But the report indicates that increased education can also lead to improved health for the individual, which translates into lower health-care costs for the state.  Greater educational attainment can also help the state realize similar savings through reductions in unemployment, crime, welfare, and other critical and costly areas.

Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Thomas Meredith said that Mississippi’s Mandate will be a valuable tool in encouraging Mississippians to seek higher education, as well as in giving strong evidence for adequate funding for education.  “This report validates the expenditures that the state makes for higher education, because it highlights the benefits for society as well as for the individual,” he said.  “It confirms what we in higher education have known, that improving the level of education of our citizens is a wise investment, not a cost.”

Among the report’s specific recommendations are creating an entity to promote education, establishing ninth-grade learning academies, increasing state financial aid (especially need-based aid), and encouraging collaboration among education agencies.  The full text of Mississippi’s Mandate is available online at http://www.ihep.org/Pubs/PDF/MissMandate051606.pdf.

Under the leadership of the Board of Trustees, IHL governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.


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