RICHMOND — According to a recent study, Virginia’s Community Colleges generated $11.6 billion annually in economic activity around the state in fiscal year 2021-22, an amount equal to nearly two percent of Virginia’s total gross state product.
The study, conducted by labor market analytics firm Lightcast and titled “The Economic Value of the Virginia Community College System,” concluded that alumni from Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS) and the businesses they work for saw $10.6 billion in added income. VCCS adds it generates an additional $1 billion in income through operational spending and attracting new students into the state.
“This study highlights the important economic role Virginia’s community colleges play, not only in revenue-generation, but in job and wealth-creation as well,” said Virginia’s Community Colleges Chancellor David Doré. “It also serves to underscore the point that an investment in Virginia’s Community Colleges has consistently yielded a positive return for taxpayers and I am confident that it will continue to do so well into the future.”
Doré noted the study estimates that for every $1 invested in the community college system, students gain $5.70 in higher future earnings, and taxpayers see a net benefit of $2.70 in added tax revenue stemming from students’ higher lifetime earnings and increased output by businesses and public sector savings.
When compared to a person with a high school diploma or equivalent, the average community college graduate with an associate degree will see an increase in earnings of $12,200 annually, according to VCCS, which added its own research reveals that students who complete FastForward short-term workforce training programs and go on to earn the resulting industry-recognized credentials see average wage gains of $11,746 per year.
“This study makes it clear that the Virginia Community College System is an economic engine in its own right, “said State Board for Community Colleges Chair Peggy Layne. “The myriad of positive contributions to state coffers and Virginians in particular cannot be understated.”
Over the long term, for every dollar invested, the people of Virginia will receive a cumulative value of $8.80 in benefits, and altogether, the social benefits equal a present value of $18.7 billion, according to VCCS.