Community colleges’ impact on Wyoming estimated at $866 million

Friday, June 3rd, 2011 • 10:05 am

Wyoming taxpayers see a 5.2 percent rate of return on their investment in Wyoming’s community colleges, and the statewide economy sees a total average annual income of $866 million due to the activities of the seven community college districts, according to a newly released report that documents the vital role the colleges play in the economic future of the state and the lives of the 60,000 students they enroll.
Eastern Wyoming College annual local impact set at $54.7 million
The results of the economic impact study of Wyoming’s Community Colleges also listed the economic impact of each of the state’s seven community colleges.
The impact of the college operations is approximately $10.5 million annually, and student spending is approximately $326,000 for a direct contribution to the economy of $10.8 million. Upon factoring the economic multiplier effect of those funds and subsequent spending by the community, Eastern Wyoming Colleges total economic impact on its service area is $54.7 million. This economic impact represents 2.3% of the total of the service area economy which includes the counties of Goshen, Converse, Niobrara, Weston, Crook, and Platte.
EWC President Dr. Tom Armstrong said the report proves that attending college provides more skilled employees who also earn higher wages. “These come back in many ways to a community: additional taxes from qualified workers and fewer individuals requiring other types of appropriate assistance.” Throughout his or her working career, the average EWC student’s discounted lifetime income increases by $4.10 for every dollar invested in EWC. Students enjoy an attractive 16.6% rate of return on their EWC educational investment, recovering all costs in 8.4 years.
The study finds meaningful economic impacts for students at Wyoming’s community colleges. Students see a rate of return on their educational investment of 19.3%. For every dollar a student invests in their education they receive a cumulative $5.60 over their working careers. Compared to someone with a high school diploma, associate degree graduates working in Wyoming earn 35% more per year, on average, over the course of a working lifetime.
The report also detailed the social perspective of the colleges’ impacts. Higher earnings that accrue to students of Wyoming’s community colleges and associated increases in state income expand the tax base in Wyoming by about $128.3 million each year. Wyoming will see avoided social costs amounting to $4.3 million per year due to students of Wyoming’s community colleges, including savings associated with improved health, reduced crime, and reduced welfare and unemployment.
State and local governments allocated $164.9 million in support of Wyoming’s community colleges in FY 2009-10. For every dollar of this support, taxpayers see a cumulative return of $1.40 over the course of students’ working careers (in the form of higher tax receipts and avoided costs).
The analysis was largely based on the 2009-10 reporting year, when Wyoming’s community colleges served 37,667 credit and 22,702 non-credit students.
In this study, Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc (EMSI) applied a comprehensive model designed to quantify the economic bene?ts of community and technical colleges and translate these into common sense bene?t/cost and investment terms. The study includes two major analyses – Investment Returns and Economic Growth Analysis.

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