Colorado community colleges generate more than $3 billion a year in economic benefits, according to a statewide study, reports the Denver Post. Students receive an annual return of 11 percent on their investment in education, Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. estimates. Over a working lifetime, associate degree graduates can expect to earn $502,100 more than someone with a high school diploma.
Only 70 percent of Colorado’s ninth graders go on to earn a high school diploma and only 44 percent go on to college, said Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System.
“It seems so few high school students want to go to college. They’re saying, ‘What’s in it for me? I can get a job,’ ” McCallin said. “But studies like this show the importance of education…if we don’t grow our own in terms of people being prepared to enter the work force, we’re going to be in trouble.”
The $3 billion in benefits may be low, McCallin said. It doesn’t include the impact of students who transfer from community colleges to four-year institutions or those who improve their basic skills in non-credit classes.