The report, by the American Association of Community Colleges, concluded every tax dollar that goes into a community college education, yields a cumulative return of $6.80 over the course of students’ careers. Federal, state, and local governments will collect an additional $285.7 billion in higher tax receipts, and tax payers will save $19.2 billion over the course of students' careers because their better lifestyles will lead to lower health care costs, reduced crime and lower need for safety net programs.
Community colleges served 11.6 million students in 2012, the year of data this report reviewed, representing 42 percent of the American collegiate population.
Although the report was released by a group representing community colleges, it falls in line with other recent studies showing associate's degrees do pay off in the long run. According to an analysis by Hamilton Place Strategies, it will be "more attractive to get an associate’s degree, rather than a bachelor’s degree, in 2065," if current cost trends continue.
"Community colleges are too often overlooked in the higher education discussion," said AACC President Walter Bumphus. "We are proud of our open access public institutions and believe the public should have an accounting of what they contribute."
The report was prepared by Economic Modeling Specialists International, and based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, outputs of EMSI’s Social Accounting Matrix model.
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