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Community College Grads Can Expect a Significant Increase in Lifetime Earnings.

Community College Grads Can Expect a Significant Increase in Lifetime Earnings.

A recent study conducted by Emsi* for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities pinpoints their overall annual impact on the state’s economy at $11 billion. In short, Emsi arrived at the value by taking into account what the institutions cost the state vs. the amount of revenue they bring in; and students’ future earning potential vs. the cost of social supports needed if they had not pursued a higher education.

Since the foundation supports seven of these institutions (Capital Community College, Gateway Community College, Middlesex Community College, Naugatuck Valley Community College, Quinebaug Community College, Three Rivers Community College, and Tunxis Community College), we thought a closer look at the positive findings relating to student earnings was in order.

The relationship between education and earnings is well documented. The study explains it this way: “From the perspective of students, education is the same as an investment; i.e., they incur a cost, or put up a certain amount of money, with the expectation of receiving benefits in return. The total costs consist of the monies that students pay in the form of tuition and fees and the opportunity costs of foregone time and money. The benefits are the higher earnings that students receive as a result of their education.”

The study also reported that it takes students, on average, 5.9 years of earning a living to recoup their investment in a CSCU institution (and any earnings they would have made if employed during this period).

For the certificate and associate degree grads (available, for instance, at community colleges), this trans­lates to an increase in earnings of $5,900 and $12,800 each year, respectively, compared to a person with a high school diploma or equivalent working in Connecticut. The study estimates that attaining this level of education (tied to a higher-paying job) could produce $500,000 or more in a working lifetime versus a high school diploma.

Other findings included:

–People employed in higher-paying jobs (i.e., those attainable with a community college degree) are less likely to be a burden on the state’s public healthcare system or to require other publicly funded social benefits.

–The unemployment rate by educational attainment shows a steady decrease between the lowest level (some high school) and each increment of study thereafter (high school graduate, some college, associate’s degree, etc.).

–Connecticut offers more than 300,000 healthcare/social assistance jobs (by far, the industry sector in the state with the most jobs). At the same time, healthcare studies at Connecticut institutions produce the most graduates.

Community colleges are the unsung heroes of higher education. They provide an affordable education and flexible options for people of all ages, who can then turn around and put their learning to work for the betterment of their families and the state’s economy as a whole.

Read the full report

*An independent labor-market data-analysis firm.