Earning a two-year degree at a community college raises earnings nearly as much as a bachelor’s degree for a lot less money, concludes a University of Connecticut study. From the Connecticut Mirror:
“It is very clear that for a very limited investment, community colleges return pretty high results,” said Steven P. Lanza, editor of UConn’s latest quarterly economic review. “Surprisingly, the returns from a community college education aren’t far off the mark of a four-year degree.”
Earning a degree from a community college increase lifetime earnings by 8.3 percent, according to Lanza’s report in The Connecticut Economy. A four-year degree from the University of Connecticut increases earnings by 9.4 percent. Both estimate takes into account the cost of tuition and the loss of potential income while in school.
State funding for community colleges hasn’t kept up with soaring enrollments, the report warns. “Students and their parents are shouldering a growing share of the burden.”
In 2009, the state’s 55,000 community college students paid for 21 percent of the total cost of their education, the highest rates in the last 20 years.
“We have to keep the price affordable or it could begin to impact students’ ability to attend our schools,” said Mary Anne Cox, assistant chancellor of Connecticut Community Colleges.
Community colleges have been level-funded by the state at $158 million since the 2008-09 school year. In that time, enrollment has exploded and now accounts for almost half of all public college students. UConn, which has about one quarter of the state’s public college students, will receive $332 million from the state this year.
Only 25 percent of community college students earn a degree. But even those with “some college” earn 21 percent more than a worker with only a high school diploma or GED, the report found.
Community college graduates are more likely to stay in the state than graduates with four-year degrees, Lanza added. “Public subsidies to community colleges stand a good chance of being recouped when they stay here,” he said.