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Friday, May 24, 2024

Study: VPCC Outperforms Many VCCS, 4-Year State Colleges in Return on Investment

Virginia Peninsula Community College, Historic Triangle Campus. (Stephanie Sabin/WYDaily)

HAMPTON ROADS — Virginia Peninsula Community College (VPCC) offers a return on investment better than the community college average and better than many four-year state institutions in the commonwealth, according to a recent independent study.

Lightcast, a company that specializes in labor market analysis, performed an economic impact study on the 23 institutions in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) as a whole in addition to individual studies on a number of the colleges.

During the 2021-22 fiscal year, for every dollar a VPCC student spent on education, the lifetime return benefit was $7.50, while every dollar of taxpayer expense returned $3.40, VPCC shared. Together, the return to society was nearly $9.60 for every $1 spent.

The VCCS as a whole provided individual returns of $5.70, a taxpayer return of $2.70, and a total societal benefit return of $8.80. Compared with the VCCS, VPCC provides a better-than-average return on investment.

“A VPCC education is clearly an investment,” said VPCC President Towuanna Porter Brannon. “We provide a greater return on investment compared to four-year universities.”

For every dollar the state spends on a full-time equivalent student at a public university, Virginia’s community colleges receive less than 57 cents, according to data from the Virginia Office of Education Economics and released by the VCCS.

The benefit to taxpayers comes from added tax revenue stemming from students’ higher lifetime earnings and increased business output, VPCC said. Virginia taxpayers also benefited from a reduced demand for state government-funded services.

Societal benefits include health-care savings as studies show those with an associate degree are less likely to smoke, be alcohol dependent, obese, abuse drugs or suffer from depression. Also falling under this category is judicial system savings as studies show those with an associate degree are less likely to be caught up in the courts system. There also are fewer welfare and unemployment claims by those with a degree, which benefits society, according to the college.

In addition, the study showed those with an associate degree from VPCC earned, on average, $13,500 more a year compared to someone with a high school diploma working in Virginia.

“We’re a leader in the commonwealth,” Brannon said.

In addition to the return on investment, VPCC provided an economic impact of $246.9 million, and the college, its students and alumni support one of every 96 jobs in the region, and 3,150 in total. That number includes the 529 employees at the college, it said.

VPCC noted the state invested $86.5 million in fiscal year 2021-22 to support VPCC, but the Virginia economy will grow by $815.2 million over the course of students’ working lives.

At a time when many question the value of higher education, Brannon said VPCC emphatically provides the answer.

“VPCC student outcomes debunk the theory that higher education is not as valuable as we claim,” she said.

For more information on VPCC, visit For questions regarding the study results and methodology, contact Maria Carrillo, Senior Economic for the Education and Government Professional Services Team at Lightcast, at

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