Each year, Americans invest in higher education through federal, state, and local taxes. Do the results justify the investment? Absolutely—research proves college grads are assets to our communities and our country.
Here is what trustees—as advocates for higher education—should know:
What is the public investment in higher education? Some 20 million students attend the nation’s public, independent, and for-profit colleges and universities, while federal, state, and local governments contribute $160 billion to the sector each year. Taxpayer dollars fund research support, institutional appropriations, and student aid in significant and meaningful ways, but college graduates return the public investment many times over.
College grads contribute more in taxes during their lifetimes. In fact, they pay over 14 times more than their counterparts with high school diplomas.
College grads are more likely to be employed and to employ others. Individuals who earn bachelor's degrees are 24 percent more likely to be employed than high school graduates. What’s more, college graduates create jobs. Those who attend college are more than twice as likely to own a small business than those with a high school education or less.
College grads give back to society. On average, college graduates donate to charity in amounts 3.4 times higher than high school graduates and are twice as likely to serve as volunteers in their communities.
College grads are considerably less reliant on public services. Over their lifetimes, high school graduates are nearly twice as likely as college grads to tap into tax-funded programming (nutrition assistance, subsidized housing, corrections, etc.). For Medicaid funding, the ratio bumps even higher.
Is college a worthwhile investment for our nation? Solid research and experiences from American higher education institutions clearly demonstrate a powerful return.