The value of Nebraska's state colleges

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dear Fellow Nebraskans:

This week, I'd like to highlight the work of our Nebraska State College System. These colleges offer a great value in higher education. The system consists of three colleges located in Chadron, Peru and Wayne.

The Nebraska State College System began in 1861, the same year as Nebraska was admitted to the Union, as a resource to prepare teachers for their careers in the classroom. Adding colleges and programs along the way, the system has responded to the changing needs of individuals, businesses and communities during its long history.

In 1867, Peru State College, located in the southeast portion of the state, was Nebraska's first public postsecondary institution. Wayne State College, anchored in northeastern Nebraska, joined the system 100 years ago. Chadron State College in the rural northwestern part of the state was added in 1911.

While the scope of our state colleges has expanded, the core mission remains the same: Providing a high quality and affordable education allows these three colleges to add to the intellectual, cultural and economic development of their respective regions and throughout our state.

Today, the Nebraska State College System serves 9,000 students on campus and online. During the past two years, the three colleges were ranked for academic quality by U.S. News & World Report due in part to the hands-on research opportunities that start during a student's freshman year, honors programs, attentive, caring professors, study abroad programs, small classes, and over 200 undergraduate and graduate degree options.

Online courses have provided students anywhere in the world the opportunity to take courses and earn a degree including students located in Iraq, Afghanistan and even Antarctica. Currently, more than 700 undergraduate and graduate courses are offered online with more courses added each year.

Nebraska's state colleges work closely with community colleges across the state. A joint enrollment program allows students attending any state or community college to take courses from other colleges and campuses. The South Sioux City College Center is being built as a partnership between Northeast Community College in Norfolk and Wayne State College.

Chancellor Stan Carpenter, the Board of Trustees and the staff and faculty of Nebraska's three state colleges work to ensure these opportunities are available at reasonable rates. Efficient use of resources is helping keep tuition and fees as low as possible.

To help ensure that more families can send their children to state colleges, two new programs were started recently that provide financial assistance to qualified students. The Nebraska State College System Advantage guarantees that first-time Nebraska freshmen who receive federal Pell Grants will pay no tuition while attending Chadron, Peru or Wayne State Colleges. The Yellow Ribbon program exempts eligible military veterans from tuition and mandatory fees at the three campuses. In addition, colleges are exploring creative ideas such as Peru State College's 'One Rate, Any State' program to increase enrollment.

While the Nebraska State College System has expanded over the years, its campuses have also been quick to adapt to a changing learning environment in order to provide students with a valuable education that enriches their earning power and adds to the development of communities across Nebraska.

I encourage Nebraskans interested in more information to visit the Nebraska State College System online at

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