01/19/05 — Benefits accrue to Wayne Community College attendees, study finds

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Benefits accrue to Wayne Community College attendees, study finds

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on January 19, 2005 2:16 PM

*A person who attends Wayne Community College will earn an average of $3,129 a year for every year of full-time study.

*For every dollar that a student invests in attending WCC, he will get back $4.45 in higher future earnings over the following 30 years.

*The college returns to the state and the county $15.40 worth of benefits for every taxpayer dollar that is spent to operate it.

These are findings in a study of Wayne Community College by CCbenefits of Moscow, Idaho, a consulting firm that analyzes the performance of community colleges in the United States and Canada.

The company studied the effects of the North Carolina's community colleges for the North Carolina community college system. In addition to providing a statewide report, it gave a separate report for each of the institutions.

Dr. Ed Wilson, president of Wayne Community College, said the purpose was to measure the economic and social benefits of the colleges. It took over a year. The study tracked four types of benefits. They included economic benefits; higher earnings; social benefits like improved health, reduced crime, lower welfare and unemployment, and return to taxpayers for their support.

A part of the economic benefit comes from the social benefits that a community college provides. For instance, improved health. The study found that a person who goes to a community college is less likely to smoke or drink.

The likelihood of incarceration for crimes drops with each year of higher education. This leads to a reduction in costs of arrest, prosecution, jail and victim costs in lost property, legal expenses and lost workdays.

Because of Wayne Community College, the study found, the county will have about 156 fewer people on welfare in a year and 70 fewer drawing unemployment benefits.

The studies demonstrated that education increases lifetime earnings.

The study in Wayne County showed average annual earnings of a student with a one-year certificate are at least $22,000 -- 82 percent -- more than someone without a high school diploma or GED. It's also more than 15 percent more than a student with a high school diploma.

The average earnings of someone with an associate degree average more than $26,000, more than someone without a high school diploma of GED. It's 34 percent more than a student with only a high school diploma or GED.

A graduate of Wayne Community College can recover all costs of attending, including wages given up while a student, in a little over seven years .

The state's benefits from improved health and reduced welfare, unemployment and crime, saving the public some $3.4 million per year.

In fiscal 2003, skills learned by current and former students at Wayne Community College increased earnings in Wayne County by $73 million directly.

The study found that for every credit completed, the average Wayne Community College student will earn $104 more a year each year.

CCbenefits said in summary that "WCC is a sound investment from multiple perspectives. The college enriches the lives of students and increases their lifetime incomes. It benefits taxpayers by generating increased tax revenues from an enlarged economy and reducing the demand for taxpayer-supported social services. Finally, it contributes to the vitality of both the local and state economies."