A new study by the Darla Moore School of Business at USC asserts that investment in higher education yields plentiful economic returns.Executive Director of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education Garrison Walters says if South Carolina doesn’t focus on higher education, it will fall further behind in today’s economy, becoming similar to a third-world nation.
Walters says each dollar spent by the state on higher education could boost the state’s annual economic activity more than 25-fold. “I think it really is the best investment the state can make, because it generates continual returns and allows the state to pay for other critical needs like K-12 education and health care.”
Walters says the Commission has a goal of increasing the percentage of bachelor degrees in the population from 23 percent to 29 percent by 2030. He says there is also strong eveidence that associate degrees have a strong influence on income and the economy.
Director of Governmental Affairs for the Higher Education Commission Julie Carullo says over the past year the share of higher education funding coming from the state of South Carolina has been cut from 15 percent down to 10 percent. “This past year alone higher ed institutions lost close to $200,000. We’re expecting more cuts so that’s hurting our colleges and making them work differently.”
But after all, the study was conducted by university staff, so isn’t it likely to be a little biased? “These are professional economists who used data from the Census Department and their work is always rigorously criticized. They’re going to call it the way the data shows it.”
One of those economists is Dr. Doug Woodward, at the Moore School of Business. He says that on average over a lifetime, individuals with bachelor’s degrees earn $1.2 million dollars more than individuals who completed high school.