Feb 10, 2007

Get Paid to Stay

When you graduate, will you stay in the same state as your college? Have you even thought about that?

Boston was recently voted the smartest city in the US, partly because there are so many colleges in Boston, and because so many students who graduate from college in the city stay there, and make a home there.

To contrast, more than one in three Indiana natives who stay in state for school leave after graduation, according to a recent article on CNN.com.

To combat this, Governor Mitch Daniels wants to offer students money for sticking around. As written in the CNN article, Daniels, “wants to offer $20,000 scholarships over four years. But there’s a catch — recipients who leave the state less than three years after graduation will be required to repay the money.”

Daniels would need $1 billion upfront, plus annual payments thereafter, and in order to afford that, he has proposed that Indiana outsource their lottery for the next 30 years. Of that money, 60% would pay for the scholarships and 40% would be used to attract top faculty to the state’s colleges.

The governor believes that this play will, “help move Indiana’s job-strapped manufacturing economy to one strong in life sciences, staffed with homegrown talent.” Others disagree, however, claiming that the best way to keep college graduates around is to offer them attractive jobs.

“The real issue is providing opportunities that young people want,” said a retired Indiana economist who believes that you can’t expect graduates to stay in the state if there aren’t any good jobs for them.

This is a classic catch-22 scenario: graduates aren’t staying in Indiana because there aren’t any good jobs, and there aren’t any good jobs because graduates aren’t staying in India. Obviously this is a problem. The question is, will Daniels’s plan fix it? It’s certainly interesting, and certainly outside-the-box, but will it work?

The CNN article quotes a biomedical engineering student that offers interesting insight. She says, “When you’re younger, three years — it’s not really that big of a deal to stay in state.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds to me like she would stay in the state for three years in order to keep the money, and would then potentially move on to greener pastures, so would this plan really work, or just postpone the inevitable?

What do you think? And if this happened in your state, what would you do?

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