Friday, February 6, 2015

Shoals Scholar Dollars & UNA

It seems that both the Lauderdale and Colbert County Commissions have turned down a request from Shoals Scholar Dollars for a monetary donation. Both bodies have stated they will reconsider the request at the time of their next yearly budget meeting.

If you aren't familiar with the Scholar Dollars program, it provides free tuition to any Alabama community/junior college for any local student maintaining a certain GPA in high school and during their time in community college. Who is taking advantage of this program and what will it mean to the University of North Alabama?

First, we're going to divide high school seniors into two categories:

1) "If I can get the first two years of my college tuition completely free, I would be an idiot not to avail myself of the opportunity."

2) "Community college? No way; Mummy and Daddy are paying for me to have an upper crust college experience at (Alabama/Auburn/Harvard/Agnes Scott)."

Observant readers may have noted that we didn't include UNA in that last option. We have little doubt that those students who fall into category two are not considering attending our local university. UNA has faced monetary woes for many years. It has always been one of the state's poor stepchildren when it comes to funding. No, Shoals Scholar Dollars will not be assisting freshman enrollment at UNA.

The university has in the past decade turned to China and other countries for much of its student base. Is there a saturation point? We're sure there's one somewhere, but at what enrollment level, we don't know. The university's golden cash cow Zing Zang Zung seems to be missing in action. We're reminded of Andy Warhol who would collect precious gems only to toss them onto the canopy of his bed and promptly forget they were there.

While we have no doubt UNA has no desire to even remotely consider this option, Athens State University decided several years ago to cater to only juniors and seniors. It simply found it almost impossible to compete with the many local community colleges and made a last ditch effort to stay afloat...and it worked amazingly well.

We have no doubt that the Scholar Dollars program is a game changer. Our only question is how big of one.


Monday is fast approaching and with it the advent of same-sex marriage. Will there be a run on local courthouses for licenses? We're guessing there will not be such a stampede locally, but there are some who have already announced they're ready to perform such ceremonies;


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