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2020 VEC Leadership Award and MECA Memorial Scholarships

Opportunities for Education

 Vigilante Electric believes in post-secondary education.  This is why we are again pairing our Leadership Award with the Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association (MECA) Memorial Scholarship.  Most scholarship articles focus on the cost of furthering one’s education, but I am going to take a different tack and focus on the cost of not going.

An abundance of economic research has correlated earnings to the educational level one has achieved.  While the numbers vary depending on the source, the general findings are similar.  SmartAsset is a personal finance technology company headquartered in New York City that uses financial modeling to provide advice on major financial decisions.  The following is information from one of its online columns:

  • Workers with less than a high school diploma are the lowest earners on average when you examine the average salary by education level. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), median weekly earnings for those with less than a high school degree are $493. That works out to $25,636 per year, assuming a year of constant earning. The unemployment rate for Americans with less than a high school diploma is 8%, the highest of any of the educational categories.
  • Earnings are higher for those with a high school diploma. Median weekly earnings for workers with a high school diploma equal $678. That works out to $35,256 per year. The unemployment rate for those with a high school diploma is 5.4%.
  • Having some college credits but no degree still improves your earnings over having just a high school diploma. The average salary of someone with some college and no degree is $738 per week, $38,376 per year. The unemployment rate for people in this category is 5%.
  • Having an associate’s degree gives you an edge over someone with no degree, but lower average earnings than someone with a bachelor’s degree. Median weekly earnings for workers with an associate’s degree are $798, for an annualized salary of $41,496. The unemployment rate in this category is 3.8%, which is lower than the average across all educational attainment levels (4.3%).
  • Americans with a bachelor’s degree earn a weekly average of $1,137. That’s higher than the median weekly earnings for workers at all education levels, $860. Average earnings for workers with bachelor’s degrees work out to $59,124 per year. The unemployment rate for Americans with a bachelor’s degree is 2.8%.

Another interesting study regarding the correlation in earnings potential to education was conducted by Georgetown University.  They found that, on average, college graduates earn $1 million more over their lifetimes than non-college graduates.

In today’s economy, the numbers strongly suggest that all post-secondary education improves earning potential. Trade school, or vocational school, is a post-secondary institution that is designed to give students the technical skills to prepare them for a specific occupation. Careers in skilled trades are in high demand and are expected to remain high for the foreseeable future according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.  Trade school graduates are also well paid.  The average annual salary of a trade school graduate is $42,000.   

We have structured the Vigilante Electric Cooperative Leadership Award in such a way   that qualified applicants can use the funding to attend any type of post-secondary education they prefer.  The application period for the 2020 Vigilante Electric Leadership Award/MECA Memorial Scholarship is now open.  Applicants must be the dependent of a member of Vigilante Electric.  They must complete all the elements of the application and return it to our office no later than January 24, 2020.

We are looking for applicants that not only excel in their schools, but also in their communities.  Judging is based on academic strength, activities in school and community, awards and honors, employment, volunteerism, community service and a personal statement. The top applications will receive our Leadership Award and the best application will be forwarded to MECA for consideration for their Memorial Scholarship. Past recipients are not eligible.  The application can be found here.

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