The Florida TaxWatch, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute, and government watchdog, announced at a press conference the results of their independent assessment of the economic impacts of the Florida College System. The research performed by the Florida TaxWatch, alongside economist Richard Harper, Ph.D., shows that the Florida College System provides a significant return on the state’s investment, increases expected work-life earnings for students and compares favorably to colleges nationally in terms of enrollment and graduation rates.
The assessment highlights that the return on investment for students is significant. Students experience increased expected work-life earnings of $491,777 to $838,023 and repayment of total cost time of only 2.50 to 3.80 years. In addition, the higher work-life salaries earned by degree holders compared to high school completers compared with the public investment in the system translates to a return of $10.80 to $15.42 in increased Florida Gross Domestic Product for every $1 invested and generates nearly 10,000 new jobs.
“The ability of our students to achieve quality higher education, earn successful careers, and do so without burdensome debt allows them to become the key drivers of economic growth for our communities and the State of Florida.”
— Polk State College President Angela Garcia Falconetti
“This report illustrates the incredible value of the Florida College System to both the state and our students, who experience a return on investment between 10.5 percent and 12 percent depending on the degree earned. At Polk State College, 80 percent of students graduate with zero student-loan debt and, on average, earn wages that are 2.3 times higher than the average entry-level wage for Polk County,” Polk State College President Angela Garcia Falconetti said. “The ability of our students to achieve quality higher education, earn successful careers, and do so without burdensome debt allows them to become the key drivers of economic growth for our communities and the State of Florida.”
Polk State College also boasts the second highest job-place and continuing-education rate in the Florida College System at 96.9 percent.
“A great many of our university graduates started at a community college, myself included,” said Florida TaxWatch President & CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “Florida’s college system has provided an opportunity for generations of Floridians to have a better life, and the return on the state’s taxpayers’ investment has been significant. In order to make Florida number 1 in the U.S. for workforce education, we must continue to invest in these worthy institutions.”
The announcement was presented alongside Representative Overdorf and Senator Flores.
“There are thousands of job openings in Florida because businesses cannot find employees with the set of skills they are looking for,” said Representative Toby Overdorf. “Thanks to the excellent research from Florida TaxWatch, we can see that the Florida College System is a national leader compared to other state systems and continues to be a good investment for the state.”
Representative Overdorf was joined by Helios Education Foundation, Florida TaxWatch, and several partners that are helping shape Florida’s economic growth, workforce development, and higher education.
“The findings by Florida TaxWatch should be of particular importance to Florida stakeholders and policymakers because they reinforce why the state’s investment into the Florida College System is important not only to current students but to Florida’s future workforce,” said Charles Hokanson, Senior Vice President, Florida Community Engagement at Helios Education Foundation. “The foundation’s mission is to ensure more students, particularly first-generation, minority, and underrepresented students, complete a postsecondary degree. This assessment illustrates the value Florida colleges bring to that mission, and to the prosperity of our state.”
Read the full report here.