On average, Florida taxpayers receive a return on investment of $10.80-$15.42 for each dollar invested in the Florida College System and 10,000 new jobs as a result of higher lifetime earnings from FCS graduates.
The Florida College System (FCS) comprises 28 public community colleges and state colleges located across the state. With nearly 750,000 students, the FCS is widely viewed as one of the finest in the nation. These colleges are authorized to offer certificates, associate and baccalaureate degrees. The FCS is responsible for responding to community needs for post-secondary academic education and career degree education. Floridians know the benefits and opportunities provided to students by these colleges in their communities, but often fail to recognize the positive economic impacts these colleges have on their community and them as taxpayers.
On average, Florida taxpayers receive a return on investment of $10.80-$15.42 for each dollar invested in the FCS and 10,000 new jobs as a result of higher lifetime earnings from FCS graduates. FCS institutions promote economic development for the state through specialized programs, in areas such as Enterprise Florida-related programs, technology transfer centers, economic development centers, and workforce literacy programs. There are three areas where Florida can expect to see economic growth from investing in FCS (1) through the in-state purchases of the FCS, including wages paid to faculty and staff; (2) through the spending of out-of-state students; (3) and through the increase in the skill base of the state workforce.
Every year FCS students join or rejoin the state workforce; in fact, approximately 95% of FCS graduates stay and work, or continue their education, in Florida. Student-added skills translate to higher income and a more robust state economy. A 2013 economic analysis by EMSI, estimated that over the past 30 years the accumulated contribution of workforce productivity received by former students at the FCS annually adds some $25.2 billion in income to Florida. The FCS is a sound investment from multiple perspectives.
FCS institutions enrich the lives of students and increases their lifetime earnings projection. There are also positive societal benefits produced by the FCS by means of “avoided costs.” Studies have found that as students achieve higher levels of education, they are less likely to participate in recreational drug use, draw welfare or unemployment benefits, or commit crimes. This net benefit translates into millions of dollars being saved for Florida taxpayers. Social benefits are directly related to the operations of the FCS and accumulate for years into the future, for as long as students remain active in the workforce.
The return on investment for taxpayers is generated from the increased tax revenue from a robust economy and reduction in the demand for taxpayer-supported social services. Additionally, the FCS contributes to the strength of both the local and state economies.
DOMINIC CALABRO, TALLAHASSEE
Editor’s note: Calabro is president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch.