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Colleges’ impact on Wyoming estimated at $866 million

Monday, June 27, 2011
Laramie County Community College’s annual local impact is $140.7 million.
Wyoming taxpayers see a 5.2 percent rate of return on their investment in Wyoming’s community colleges, and the statewide economy sees a total average annual income of $866 million due to the activities of the seven community college districts, according to a newly released report that documents the vital role the colleges play in the economic future of the state and the lives of the 60,000 students they enroll.

The report credits Laramie County Community College with bringing in an annual local impact of $140.7 million, or approximately 2.5% of the total Laramie County economy. The impact of the college operations is approximately $29.2 million annually, while the student spending effect is approximately $14.8 million.

The study finds meaningful economic impacts for students at Wyoming’s community colleges. Students see a rate of return on their educational investment of 19.3%. For every dollar a student invests in their education they receive a cumulative $5.60 over their working careers. Compared to someone with a high school diploma, associate degree graduates working in Wyoming earn 35% more per year, on average, over the course of a working lifetime.

The report also detailed the social perspective of the colleges’ impacts. Higher earnings that accrue to students of Wyoming’s community colleges and associated increases in state income expand the tax base in Wyoming by about $128.3 million each year. Wyoming will see avoided social costs amounting to $4.3 million per year due to students of Wyoming’s community colleges, including savings associated with improved health, reduced crime, and reduced welfare and unemployment.

State and local governments allocated $164.9 million in support of Wyoming’s community colleges in FY 2009-10. For every dollar of this support, taxpayers see a cumulative return of $1.40 over the course of students’ working careers (in the form of higher tax receipts and avoided costs).

The analysis was largely based on the 2009-10 reporting year, when Wyoming’s community colleges served 37,667 credit and 22,702 non-credit students.

In this study, Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc (EMSI) applied a comprehensive model designed to quantify the economic benefits of community and technical colleges and translate these into common sense benefit/cost and investment terms. The study includes two major analyses – Investment Returns and Economic Growth Analysis.