Regional colleges yield great value

Bradenton Herald, June 17, 2016
With the increasing concern about the cost of college, some question the return on investment of a college degree and even the value of colleges themselves. I believe there is value in both.
For individuals, the exact return on investment will vary based on a number of factors, but generally there is significant value not only to the graduate but to the larger community as well. According to a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, a full-time, full-year worker with a bachelor’s degree will earn an average of $2.3 million over the span of a 40-year career, compared to $1.3 million for someone with a high school diploma. An associate’s degree holder will fall in between, with expected earnings of $1.7 million.
A 2013 report issued by the Economic Policy Institute makes the case that increasing the educational level of the population leads to better-paying jobs, resulting in more tax revenues and consumer spending, thus providing a significant economic benefit to the community that far exceeds the cost of a college education. The report also cites research finding that higher levels of education correspond to improved health; lower rates of mortality, crime and poverty; and less reliance on public assistance.
So, how do we encourage more high school graduates to continue their education? Students often express concerns about cost, time, convenience, lack of options and other issues when making decisions about college. Leaders at Eckerd College, New College of Florida, Ringling College of Art and Design, The Ringling, State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee have formed the Consortium of Colleges on the Creative Coast, better known as C4, and one of our goals is to make college attainable, with many options and resources available here in our community. Highly skilled staff members are available at each institution to assist students with developing a college plan that fits their particular circumstances.