A new study found the state’s college and university system has an annual economic impact of more than $11 billion, based on analysis of data from the 2016-17 fiscal year.
“We are from Connecticut, we stay in Connecticut and we provide the economic engine for the future of Connecticut,” CSCU President Mark Ojakian said, adding more than 75 percent of the system’s graduates find a job in the state.
According to the analysis by the firm Emsi, the state gains an added $11.70 in state revenue and social savings for every $1 invested in the state’s 17 colleges and universities.
“My education at Housatonic prepared me very well for what I do here,” said Jeramine Burke from Bridgeport.
For Burke, working at Balding Precision in Milford is a second change.
“I was in prison at 21 facing some pretty rough charges,” he said, “but the grace of God I was given the opportunity to go back to school where I did manufacturing.”
In 2016, Burke completed Housatonic Community College’s year-long advanced manufacturing program.
“It was very in-depth preparing us for the workforce,” he said, “dealing with the machines.”
Burke said an internship led to his job at the sub-contractor that makes parts for the aerospace and medical industries.
“It’s a very lucrative business and the experience is everything,” he said. “It’s done me justice, it’s really put me on a better path.”
The bulk of the $11.1 billion the CSCU system contributes annually to the Connecticut economy comes from the $9.9 billion in alumni earnings, according to the first-ever system-wide study.
“The higher education the institutions are providing for its students,” Emsi economist Hannah Ruffridge told NBC Connecticut after her presentation Thursday morning at Gateway Community College in New Haven. “It’s alumni are then entering the Connecticut workforce and they’re making more money positively impacting the Connecticut economy.”
Ojakian said the findings should send a message to the new governor and General Assembly when it comes to allocating funding for the CSCU system.
“As we tell our story about why we should be viewed as an investment in the future of the state of Connecticut and not simply as an expenditure or a line item in a budget,” he said.
First generation college student Jesus Garzon is in his second year at Gateway. He said next year he plans to transfer to Southern Connecticut State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science.
“The fact that we are living in a very education driven economy its absolutely a no-brainer,” Garzon said. “It’s pretty hard to just get away with a high school diploma now.”
State Rep. Toni Walker (D-New Haven) chairs the Appropriations Committee and she is part of Governor-elect Ned Lamont’s transition team. She told NBC Connecticut the study should be helpful for her colleagues in Hartford.
“I think this is a good way of giving us better information as we look at the budget where the areas that we can, impact the state in a positive way,” Rep. Walker said. “Looking at the actual return on investment for all of the different aspects, the students, the community or the university, those impacts are translate down to dollars.”