According to Mark Keenum, president of Mississippi State University, Mississippi’s high schools are graduating fewer students each year, which makes it harder for students to apply for university admissions. “Why? Keenum, who is in his eighth year as MSU’s leader, said that fewer people are graduating from high school because Mississippi’s population hasn’t increased. Keenum spoke at the Stennis Institute Capital Press Luncheon, Jackson. He blamed student loss on “outmigration” of Mississippi residents looking for better jobs elsewhere. According to Keenum, a survey has shown that only half of MSU’s graduates stay in the state after they graduate. He admitted that “that’s not terrible” and said he was proud of the out-of-state opportunities available to his students. He said that he hopes to “build on opportunities to bring these students back home” someday. Keenum also discussed the increasing challenges that he and other state university officials face in meeting student demands while dealing with diminishing state resources. Multiple studies have shown that college graduates earn higher wages than those without high school diplomas. He noted that there is a direct correlation between higher education attainment and higher income. Imagine Mississippi if only 35 percent of its residents had college degrees. Less than 20% of Mississippi’s residents have them. He said that the state’s per capita annual income is slightly less than $21,000. Keenum said that Mississippi’s income statistics were comparable to Connecticut’s $39,000 average income with 36% of residents having college degrees, and Massachusetts’ $36,500 average income with 38% of residents having college degrees. MSU chief Keenum said that a more educated population would lead to more opportunities and better jobs. While full-time tuition at MSU costs $16,400 per annum, the cost of in-state tuition is $7,500. Keenum stated that MSU increases this income by charging out-of-state students higher rates. Gifts from friends and alumni are also important resources. He said that he enjoys the chance to show state politicians how MSU spends state funds and “what they’re doing at Mississippi State.” In fact, the Mississippi Legislature has requested a study on spending at all state universities. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today.