Investing in Higher Ed and the workforce of the future

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

Graduation Day at University of California, Irvine. UC fees have tripled in the last 10 years. (Photo credit: Daniel A. Anderson
UCI University Communications)

This piece was originally published on the California Economic Summit blog.

It’s one of several million dollar questions of the moment: Is it worth it for California to invest in saving higher education?

The answer is an emphatic yes, this according to the Campaign for College Opportunity.

Today the organization released a report examining the state’s spending on the university system and how much graduates end up contributing back into the overall budget.

That’s a tough point to sell in times of tight budgets. Higher education has seen a slew of cuts totaling billions of dollars since the recession hit in 2008. Subsequently, tuition at colleges and universities has skyrocketed.

Here are some key findings from the report, “California’s Economic Payoff: Investing in College Access & Completion.”

  • For every $1 California invests in students who graduate, it will receive a net return on investment of $4.50
  • Californians with a college degree will earn $1,340,000 more than their peers with only a high school diploma
  • Past graduates of UC and CSU return $12 billion annually to the state
  • By entering and completing college, the average Californian will spend four years less in poverty, reducing the expected number of years they receive cash aid by more than two years
  • By the time a graduate reaches 38 years old, the state’s initial investment is repaid in full

The report concludes, “the benefit of the state’s investment in higher education is substantial. Based on these findings, college completion would represent far and away the best investment return for both individuals and the state.”

California’s education system was a hot topic at each regional economic forum held recently. In fact, it’s a topic that will be tackled during the first ever California Economic Summit on May 11 in Santa Clara. Hundreds of people agreed the bleeding of our education system needs to stop. Coming up solutions to education issues and preparing a workforce for the jobs available will be key to bolstering our state’s future.


Cheryl Getuiza

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