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Study: Universities Pay Off for State

Investment in public universities generates returns for the entire state, researchers say.

A new study shows graduates of the University of California and California State University generate returns to the state averaging $12 billion a year.

The authors of “California’s Economic Payoff: Investing in College Access and Completion,” include Henry Brady, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy; sociology professor Michael Hout, and Jon Stiles, executive director of the California Census Research Data Center. The report, released Tuesday, was conducted for The Campaign for College Opportunity.

“Past investments in public higher education are buffering the effects of today’s economic downturn and future investments will do the same,” Stiles said.

Key findings include these:

• For every dollar California invests to get more students in and through college, it will receive a net return on investment of four dollars and fifty cents.

• The return for those who complete college is twice as high—$4.80—than for those who enter but fail to complete college—$2.40.

• The costs of investing in higher education would have to more than triple before it would fail to return the state’s original investment.

• Past University of California and California State University graduates provide ongoing returns to the state averaging $12 billion annually, well above the current general fund expenditures for the UC, CSU, and California Community College systems combined.

The findings echo a report the same researchers released in November 2005, “Return on Investment: Educational Choices and Demographic Change in California’s Future.“

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