Brainstorming: College affordability, keeping grads in WV

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WDTV)- This week 5 News has looked at how government funding could affect WVU and how that could affect your tuition. But are there other ways we could be structuring our college system altogether? And what impact would that have on our state? 5 News takes a look into some out-of-the box thinking that's not just a dream for some people.

You go to college, you graduate, you stress about student loans. Sound familiar? If you also left the state in search of a job that would keep your head above water while paying the loans back, you're in the majority. A study from WVU's Bureau of Business and Economic Research found most public higher education graduates leave the state.

"I think this should be a real cause for concern for us," said Dr. John Deskins, the director of the bureau. "I think we should look for ways to make better opportunities for those men and women in West Virginia and try to encourage them to stay."

He says we should think outside the box. Other places are, like in New York where a new free tuition scholarship has the condition that you work in the state after graduation. Another scenario: How about not paying for college until you make enough money to? To one Berkeley County native and WVU grad, this isn't a crazy idea, not when you're surrounded by people with that reality living in Australia.

"Since moving here I've been constantly worried about and having to send money home to pay off my student loans," said Cassidy Brown.

For Brown, the stranger idea is that other ways of paying for college are happening, just not here.

"It's just insane to me that there's a system out there like this that exists in countries," she said.

According to Deskins, brainstorming ways to encourage people to go to college and then stay in the state is worth it.

"Even more college graduates in clusters can start creating more attractive areas for businesses to locate, we see more job opportunities develop, yet more graduates stay and the whole cycle builds in a positive way," he said. "Creating that cycle, igniting that cycle should be an important focus for economic development."

The true test comes with trying to figure out how to "ignite" that cycle. It's a big challenge in our hands, especially with our state's budget deficit. But those like Deskins and Brown believe the brainstorming can never start too soon.