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It goes without saying that earning a college degree enhances the life of the degree-holder in many ways, including increased self-esteem, a broadened knowledge base, better job satisfaction, and greater earnings. Studies also show that individuals with a degree benefit from better overall health and stronger personal relationships. The ripple effect of earning a degree, however, is not always as obvious. We never know when a member of our family or one of our friends—or even a mere acquaintance—has been affected positively by the fact that we have inadvertently been a role model for him or her.
Not only do degree-holders benefit, themselves, and affect those around them in a positive way, but they also benefit the economy of the areas in which they live. A recent study provided by the independent research firm Economic Modeling Specialists enumerates the benefits that Ivy Tech Community College-Columbus/Franklin brings to our local economy.
The average annual income of the typical associate degree graduate in the Columbus region at the midpoint of his or her career is 35% more than that of a person with a high school diploma. Students enjoy a 15.7 percent average rate of return on their Ivy Tech educational investment, recovering all costs, including tuition, fees, and forgone wages, in 9.4 years. Earning more translates into spending more, resulting in a direct and immediate benefit to the economy.
Ivy Tech also provides lower social costs to the region. Higher education is statistically correlated with improved lifestyle behaviors, including reduced incidences of absenteeism, alcohol abuse, and smoking; lower probability of committing crime; and fewer welfare and unemployment claims. These improved habits result in enormous social savings. It is estimated that the 2010-11 student population of Ivy Tech-Columbus/Franklin will generate social savings to the Indiana public equal to $945,200 each year.
Ivy Tech-Columbus/Franklin raises consumer spending. During the 2010-11 reporting year, Ivy Tech employed 137 full-time and 94 part-time faculty and staff, with an annual payroll of $13.7 million. In addition to the payroll, Ivy Tech-Columbus spent $18.3 million in fiscal year 2010-11 for supplies and services, of which an estimated 45 percent was spent in the Columbus region.
Since an estimated 98 percent of Ivy Tech students remain in Indiana and contribute to economic growth, Ivy Tech-Columbus/Franklin increases state income. Altogether, higher student income and associated effects on business productivity add $14.6 million in income annually to the state economy.
The Corporate College arm of Ivy Tech provides customized training to area employers, thereby improving the productivity and efficiency of their employees. Working in partnership with area business and industry, Ivy Tech assists local employers in reaching their goal of increased profitability.
The existence of Ivy Tech-Columbus/Franklin benefits all residents of its service area. Students benefit from higher incomes, enhanced lifestyles, and better overall health. Employers benefit from increased worker productivity and, therefore, more successful enterprises. The public at large benefits from an expanded economic base and enjoys the advantages of reduced crime, lower welfare and unemployment, improved health, and less absenteeism. Ivy Tech-Columbus/Franklin benefits this region enormously.
John Hogan is chancellor of Ivy Tech-Columbus/Franklin.
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