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Awake58: Dollars and cents.

This is a copy of the Awake58 newsletter originally sent on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Click here to subscribe. 

Dollars and cents

The Senate budget passed, but the process continues… FAFSA completion matters, so we produced a “how to”… We evaluated some bright spots in data across North Carolina’s educational continuum… And a long feature looks at the job market through the prism of recent graduates.

The North Carolina Senate passed a budget last week. Alex Granados has the report. For more details, check out his previous overview. Remember that the process will continue in conference committee, and as one community college president reminded me last week when I pressed him for his opinion on the House budget, the debates in conference are the critical ones. And, as always, it is worth remembering that even after the budget is resolved between the House and Senate, it will head to the Governor who then has to decide if he wishes to exercise a veto or approve the budget.

One big difference between the two budgets to keep your eye on is the funding for short-term workforce development. The Senate budget calls for slightly north of $12 million over two years, while the House budget calls for $8 million in the first year and $11.5 million in the second. If you want to know more about why this matters, check out Ellen Spolar’s piece on why this debate is an important one.

The funding formula for the community college system will likely be impacted by the budget, but if you are curious about the way the model works now, I would encourage you to take three minutes and watch this video.

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EdNC Reads

The Senate budget passed. What now?

As mentioned above, the Senate budget passed. We have been reporting on the process consistently. One big difference between the Senate and the House budget relates to short-term workforce development funding, so stay tuned for how that all shakes out.

EdNC Explains: How does the state fund community colleges? 

Community colleges in North Carolina get most of their funding from the state, but the amount each college receives can vastly differ. How does the General Assembly decide who gets what? Watch this video with Jennifer Haygood for more.

For the students in your life: You need to fill out the FAFSA. Here’s how.

The FAFSA seems complex, but it is vital. Please share this piece as widely as you are able. Robert Kinlaw opens his piece with this reminder: “Every student pursuing education after high school should fill out the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA isn’t one single loan or grant — it’s an application that, when completed, gauges how much help you will likely need to pay for college and connects you with resources.”

One perspective: A new generation of nursing. Meet Cameron Whitehead

“It was expected of me to go to the big university and get a four-year degree,” shares Cameron Whitehead in this perspective. After seven years of working as a teacher, however, Cameron knew she wanted to make a change, so she headed to Beaufort Community College.

#EdData in NC: The full series

Analisa Sorrells burned up the roads all over North Carolina to visit various schools and systems that have implemented interesting approaches to utilizing data. I would encourage you to spend time with her full series.

Surry Community College hosts Buzz Fest as a certified Bee Campus

Surry Community College is a certified Bee Campus. They hope to play a small role in a big problem. As Yasmin Bendaas reports, “The loss of bee colonies is not a local problem, it’s been part of environmental news worldwide. According to Greenpeace USA, ‘U.S. National Agricultural Statistics show a honey bee decline from about 6 million hives in 1947 to 2.4 million hives in 2008, a 60 percent reduction.’”

Weekly Insight: Evaluation of North Carolina’s prison-based postsecondary education program offers important insights

Molly Osborne explores the recent data and research around our state’s pathways from prison to postsecondary education in this piece. She releases a weekly newsletter called Friday@Five that highlights important policy research every Friday. Subscribe!

Other Reads

Let us know how you do: A game of college

Can you get into college, finish a four year degree, and avoid taking on too much debt? The Hechinger Report released a new interactive game where you can see how you do. Play the game and let us know how you do.

The college dropout crisis

This piece stuck with me long after I finished checking it out: “American higher education has a dropout problem. About one in three students who enroll in college never earn a degree. But a promising solution is staring us in the face: Schools with similar students often have very different graduation rates. This suggests that the problem isn’t the students — it’s the schools.”

For Hire. The job market through the eyes of college graduates in search of work.

Generation Z is now entering the workforce. They are the first generation to graduate into a world where the “gig economy” is a norm for many, and the threat (and promise) of automation is looming ever closer. They also experienced the Great Recession as kids. The authors of this piece do a fantastic job documenting this experience through the eyes of these new graduates.

A financial checklist for your newly minted high school graduate

I am a big fan of “how to” journalism. The New York Times has a checklist for high school graduates this June, but the checklist is a strong one for all parents to read.

One more thing to consider

Last Wednesday, my colleague Austin Gragson and I visited with students from Catawba Valley, Forsyth Tech, and Wilkes Community College. The students are part of an experiment we launched a few weeks ago around community college fellowships. Each of the Awake58 Fellows are studying interventions for students with a particular emphasis around Finish Line Grants for this cohort.

As I visited the students I thought about this analysis of legislation designed to combat housing insecurity among postsecondary students. Students, community college staffers, and presidents all pointed to housing costs as a significant challenge for their students on the path to completion. I am curious to know if any of your local colleges are piloting innovations in the space, as well as what barriers you might see to addressing this issue. Please respond to this email with your thoughts.

A message from our friends at the Institute for Emerging Issues

The Institute for Emerging Issues is preparing for their upcoming Emerging Issues Forum, ReCONNECT to Economic Opportunity, on October 15th 2019 in Charlotte. Through an application process, they are putting together a cohort of five communities that are working on successful efforts to connect adult, lower income earners to:

* information or services related to sustainable-wage employment;

* effective skill-enhancing training models and employer-supported initiatives; or

* programs that remove non-academic barriers to, and provide support for, postsecondary education

“Communities” can be an organization or partnership located in a region, county, city, town, or neighborhood. These can include, but are not limited to, entities of local government, educational institutions, businesses, non-profit organizations, and faith communities.  More information about the program, application process, and application form can be found on their website. The deadline for applications is June 7, 2019.


EducationNC ( believes a more informed, connected, and engaged North Carolina is a better North Carolina. Thank you so much for joining us in the conversation around our students, our state, and our future. If you have any questions about our mission and vision, feel free to email me

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.