CAC and You, A Profitable Partnership

How Your Education Empowers Our Region

CAC and You, A Profitable Partnership

Justine Jensen, Cactus Staff Writer

Attending community college is often viewed as a stepping-stone to a four-year degree college or university. While this can be the case, many students take their new skills directly into full-time employment. Attending Central Arizona College can have an attractive bottom line when you get your bottom in gear and graduate!

With a graduation rate of 35% Central Arizona College is more beneficial to the community than most people realize. Yes, some students do go on to a four-year institution, which has a lasting impact on the region when the graduates remain locally or in our state. The many others who decide to start in the workforce after graduating from CAC have a significant impact on the community, both economically and socially.

The last thing that comes to mind when you are discussing the benefits of community college to the surrounding region is taxes. Does anyone ever really want to think about taxes, aside from accountants? However, according to a recent study by Economic Modeling Specialist International (EMSI), if CAC were not in the county, taxes would have to be raised to offer the same services.

Tax funds are used by CAC to educate Pinal County’s future workforce. Without CAC, local students would need to travel to other counties and possibly other states, to earn a higher degree. There would then be a less likely chance of those out-of-state graduates returning to Pinal County to replenish the revenue generated by gainful employment.

An estimated 97% of stu­dents remain in Arizona after graduation. This contributes to expanding economic growth through increased taxable in­come, and reduces social costs as well. Welfare and/or Medic­aid costs decrease due to more substantial employment, usu­ally earning the student high­er wages and healthcare ben­efits. Law Enforcement costs decrease due to lower crime rates resulting from mean­ingful employment and high­er self-esteem. State and lo­cal governments save roughly $2.6 million per year in social costs because of a more highly educated population.

Looking at the numbers can be boring but when it’s about your expected earnings and what they’ll do for you and your community it’s worth a look. The differentiating fac­tor is the return on investment for a high school diploma ver­sus a college degree. An As­sociates degree can produce a median salary of $40,000 an­nually versus about $30,000 for a high school diploma. That’s a large jump in tax­able income that recirculates to create a thriving economy for Pinal County and Arizona in general. And broken down into a what’s in it for you sce­nario, for every dollar you invest at CAC, in the way of tuition and fees etc., you get an impressive $3.20 returned.

It is quite the cycle between CAC and Pinal County’s tax revenue. Lower or no tax dol­lars to CAC means operations would not be able to run opti­mally. A decrease of operations results in less students. Lack of higher-earning employees means less taxable income. Less taxable income results in less tax revenue to distrib­ute to the county and state.

While some see community college as a wading pool into the real world, it deserves far more credit than that. Central Arizona College, and other community col­leges in the state, make vast contributions to the economy as well as the community.

We must not forget the greatest impact of CAC, changing the lives of its stu­dents! Within one year of attending CAC’s Graphic Design program, I was em­ployed by a local print shop in Casa Grande, as their lead designer. I continue to work there part-time as I finish my degree. It may turn into a full-time endeavor short­ly thereafter. As I can at­test personally, our school is well worth the investment.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);