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What's the Value of Higher Ed?

Higher Ed Yields a Powerful Return for American Taxpayers

Each year, Americans make a sizable investment in higher education through federal, state, and local taxes. Do the results justify the investment? Research proves college grads are assets to our communities and our country.

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% 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 less likely to rely on public services. Over their lifetimes, high school graduates tap into tax-funded programming (nutrition assistance, subsidized housing, corrections, etc.) at a rate of nearly two-to-one over those who earn a four-year college degree. For Medicaid funding, the ratio bumps even higher.

Use these resources to craft messages, op-eds, and remarks to share with colleagues, campus constituents, the media, and other audiences. Also, follow @AGBGuardians and visit the Guardians homepage for other useful information on higher ed's return on investment.

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