Scholarships Combat State Brain Drain, Study Shows

By: - March 13, 2001 12:00 am

State scholarship programs for high school students with an A or B average have been a policy darling of governors and state lawmakers. The programs are a good way to stem brain drain, according to a new study by the Southern Technology Council, a North Carolina-based organization of 14 Southern states lawmakers, government officials and business leaders.

By keeping students instate for college and encouraging the admission of out-of-state students, states can keep their best and brightest and build up their workforce for the new knowledge economy, the study, Who Will Stay and Who Will Leave says.

“When you have a kid going to college in the same state they went to high school in they are ten times more likely stay in state after graduating from college,” says Mark Tosczak, communications director for the STC.

Tosczak adds that students who come from another state to attend college are more likely to stay after they graduate. “That is your workforce for technology companies that produced high wage jobs.”

The study follows the migration patterns of 1998 science and engineering graduates and shows that engineering students, high achieving students, or graduates of research intensive schools are more likely to leave a state after graduation.

At least 18 states offer in-state scholarships to students who graduate with A’s and B’s. While these policies are helpful in stemming brain drain, the authors recommend policymakers lower out- of -state tuition for science and engineering students.

“The capacity of a workforce to respond to the scientific and engineering needs of a marketplace is critical in the emerging knowledge-based economy. Clearly, the factors involved in a graduate’s decision to stay or leave the home state are of more than passing concern to policymakers,” the authors state in the executive summary.

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, California, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia are all members of the Southern Technology Council.

The full report will be released at the end of March, but reporters can get a draft copy by calling 919-941-5145. It was based upon the National Science Foundation’s National Survey of Recent college Graduates and is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

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