Investment in public higher education is good for the state

A recently released 127-page study by the non-profit group Campaign for College Opportunity and three researchers from UC Berkeley, entitled “Return on Investment: Educational Choices and Demographic Change in California’s Future,” has been getting a lot of press statewide. However, I haven’t found any mention of in any LA newspapers. What gives?

Some key findings from the fast facts (pdf) sheet:

  • For every dollar California invests to get more students in and through college, it will receive a net return of three dollars. This is due to increased tax contributions and reductions in expenditures for social services and incarceration.
  • Achievable gains in college-going for each group of 18-year-olds in California will yield $3 billion in additional net tax revenue over their lifetimes.
  • The state’s investment in higher education will pay off surprisingly quickly: By age 35, California college graduates will have repaid California taxpayers’ initial investment in full. For the next 30 years these individuals spend working until they retire at age 65, they effectively produce a “bonus” to the state in terms of increased tax contributions.
  • If enrollment stalls at current capacity, the state will actually lose — not save — money. Due to reduced tax revenues and increased costs for social welfare and incarceration, the state faces a net loss of two dollars in the long run for every dollar it failed to spend in the short run.
  • In addition to the benefits to the state, the study quantifies the “quality of life” benefits for expanded college opportunity, such as having a more secure career and owning a home.
  • The study notes important policy implications such as improving the high school to college transition, making the best use of all higher education assets, and enhancing college access and outcomes for students from all ethnic groups.

Maybe with news like this, state legislators, the UC Board of Regents and CSU Board of Trustees will stop the 5 years of consecutive fee increases.

The Campaign for College Opportunity also features some regional fact sheets on expected growth in demand. For LA County (pdf) there are over half a million students in community colleges, CSU and UC. I assume this is only undergraduate because I know the UC number is about 10,000 off. By 2013, the projected demand increases by about 41% to 724,983.

The largest increased is expected in the community college segment which in 2003 had an enrollment of 393,747. In 2013 the expected demand is 568,791 (+44.5%) which outpaces growth at CC’s statewide. The CSU’s and UCLA project growth is lower than the statewide change. CSU campuses are expected to grow from 95,999 to 126,528 (+31.8%) and UCLA undergraduate enrollment is expected to go from 25,715 to 29, 664 (+15.4%).

That’s a whole lot of students.

3 Replies to “Investment in public higher education is good for the state”

  1. Do you ever contribute anything positive to ANY blogger on this site or is being a thorn on people’s side your hobby rachel?

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