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Florida College System: A $26.6 billion impact

Students at Seminole State's Sanford/Lake Mary Campus in Janary. A new study estimates Seminole State's impact on Seminole County at more than $430 million.

Florida’s 28 public colleges, known as the Florida College System (FCS), pump an additional $26.6 billion per year into the state’s economy by producing graduates who are better prepared to become high-income earners, according to an economic study released March 18 by the Council of Presidents for the FCS.

The report also found that Seminole State College of Florida, the eighth-largest FCS institution, had an economic impact on Seminole County of $430.6 million in 2011-12. Seminole State has four campuses in Seminole County and 32,000 students.

Increased earnings of students and alumni made up $361 million of the study, and the remainder was from college operations ($67 million) and student spending ($1.7 million). The report measured the College's impact only on Seminole County. Because about 44 percent of the College's students live outside the county, Seminole State's impact on Central Florida is even greater.

The Council of Presidents noted that the colleges were designed in part to promote economic development for Florida, and the new study shows just how well the FCS lives up to that mission. The FCS awarded 105,798 degrees and certificates last year.

 

Reacting to the study, Gov. Rick Scott said, “This study comes on the heels of today’s announcement that we’ve added more than 280,000 private-sector jobs over the last two years, and as we continue to focus on greater economic growth, students will have even more opportunities to find a job in the Sunshine State. Moreover, this report is great news in support of our goal to create more jobs and strengthen education. Florida colleges continue to step up and provide students with an even more affordable, high-quality education. I am proud that all colleges offering four-year degrees have accepted our $10,000 Degree Challenge. Our Florida Families First Budget’ increases state funding to Florida colleges by more than $74 million. We are committed to making sure our students are prepared to compete for jobs in the global marketplace.”

St. Johns River State College President Joe Pickens, chair of the Council of Presidents, said the study provides solid data regarding the 28 member  colleges. “Florida’s colleges are providing exactly the kind of boost our state needs,” Pickens said. “With a $26.6 billion bump to our economy, it’s clear the Florida College System plays a vital role in shaping Florida’s future. We are grateful to our state leaders for their wise investment that touches the lives of so many Floridians.”

Last year, a similar economic impact study — conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) — found that Valencia College’s economic impact on the Central Florida region is over $1 billion a year in the form of alumni earnings, student spending and expenditures on college operations.

The Council of Presidents and the FCS Foundation subsequently commissioned EMSI to conduct the economic impact study of the Florida system. EMSI has been conducting economic impact studies for colleges and universities and economic development groups from across the United States since 2000. In addition to examining impacts created by the accumulated skills and higher productivity of students in the workforce, EMSI also looked at the impact of Florida’s college and student spending.

“At its core, the Florida College System is about providing access to high-quality education and job training that responds to community and state needs,” said Florida College System Chancellor Randy Hanna. “The results from the economic impact study confirm something we already knew: The Florida College System is an important economic development engine for the state.”

Joining education leaders at Tuesday’s event were State Board of Education Members John Padget, Ada Armas, John Colon and Barbara Feingold and Seminole State College Board Chairman Scott Howat.

The Florida College System has always served as a gateway to higher education through its high-quality programs, open-door admission policies and low tuition rates. Today, the 28 colleges serve one out of every 21 Floridians. In fact, 88 percent of FCS graduates are employed or continuing their education within one year of graduation.  Bachelor’s-degree graduates had an average salary of $46,186. Those who receive an associate in science degree go on to earn an average salary of $44,095.

“We often talk in the legislature about creating jobs and making things better for our children, and the Florida College System is the perfect example of what we need to do more of,” said House Speaker Pro Tem Marti Coley of Marianna, who attended Chipola Junior College before moving on to Florida State University. “I know from my own experience that our college system lays a solid foundation for the future.”

FCS offers a range of certificates and degrees that prepare students for the workforce. According to the EMSI study, for every $1 students invest in FCS, they receive a cumulative $6 in higher future income over the course of their working careers.

Last year’s job placement and continuing education rates show that 79,438 FCS graduates found jobs or continued their education following their completion of FCS coursework.

“The Florida College System nourishes our home-grown talent – 93 percent of FCS students remain in Florida and contribute to economic growth,” said David Hart, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “When we invest in the FCS, we are investing in Florida’s future workforce, and that makes sense for all of us.”

Among the highlights of the 2013 report on the economic contribution of the Florida College System and Seminole State:

  • The total effect of the Florida College System on the Florida economy, based on student productivity gains, college operations, and student spending, is $26.6 billion.
  • State government sees a rate of return of 9.4 percent on its investment in the Florida College System.
  • For every dollar of support, taxpayers see a cumulative return of $2.90 over the course of students’ careers.
  • Students enjoy an attractive 16.8 percent average rate of return on their educational investment, recovering all costs (including tuition, fees and lost earning potential while in school) in 9.1 years. In comparison, the historical average rate of return for the stock market is 9.9 percent and recent two-year certificates of deposit earn between .25 percent and 1.20 percent.
  • Florida also benefits from the improved health and reduced welfare, unemployment and crime that accompany a more educated population.
  • 93 percent of Florida College System students remain in Florida and factor into the state’s overall economy.

For detailed information on the EMSI study, see Florida College System Economic Impact.

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