Pikes Peak Community College packs a $323 million economic punch to El Paso County, and that’s just a portion of the $3 billion annual economic impact that community colleges bring to Colorado.

The news comes from a report released by the Colorado Community College System, which is the governing body for the state’s 13 community colleges and its 162,000 students.

The hefty numbers include the higher earnings that students receive as a result of their college education, as well as the increased business productivity because of a highly trained workforce.

For every $1 students invest in their education at a community college, they see an average increase of $3.10 in their working careers, the study said. State and local governments see an average rate of return of 5.9 percent as a result of their investment in the colleges.

On an annual basis, after adjusting for inflation, students receive an 11 percent rate of return on the money they invested in their community college education.

“The results of this study clearly demonstrate the value of community colleges to the students, the taxpayers and businesses in Colorado,” said Dr. Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System. “As our students earn their higher education, they become more employable; they are paid better, and can then afford to invest in the kinds of products and services to improve their lives.”

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Businesses benefit by having higher skilled employees, which allows the business to grow and hire more employees, she said.

“We are pleased that the results of the study show that community colleges are a wise investment of taxpayer and student money because the return is substantial,” she said.

Pikes Peak Community College has a total economic impact of $323.317 million. For every $1 a PPCC student invests, they see an average increase of $3.60 in their working careers.

Dr. Lance Bolton, PPCC president, said he sees the impact of education on the students and on the community. Thanks to the study, the college can quantify the full impact of a PPCC education to the community at large, he said.

“Each day we see and hear of students turning their lives around, landing their dream job or giving back through their volunteer work at a local charity,” he said. “In large part, these students are able to do this because of the quality education they receive while at PPCC.”

The study was conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. EMSI is a professional service firm that provides economic consulting to colleges. Since 2000, EMSI has produced more than 1,100 economic impact studies for community colleges in the U.S.

  • Anonymous

    Dr. Lance Bolton, along with Dr. Nancy McCallin, both responsible for capping federal student loans applications at $24K, have done nothing more than further damaging their local and regional economies by targeting low-income, financially needy students (who have to use student loans for living expenses while pursuing their degree) and denying them the same opportunity to complete their degree that affluent students have. The economic impact is to take students who are trying to turn their lives around and re-enter the workforce (a degree is a requirement at this point) and do nothing more than burden them with continued unemployment and a debt they can’t repay. This means that a single mom with two kids can’t get off of state benefits due to Dr. Lance Bolton’s decision to deny her the education she needs to be the bread winner her children need her to be. This article does nothing more than pat the back of highly irresponsible Doctorate degree holders who have no business overseeing the educational interests of potential, or current, Colorado Community Colleges students. Denying low-income, financially needy students the opportunity to complete their educations is against federal regulations. And that information came directly from the desk of President Obama when I e-mailed him asking if there was anything he could do to help correct the problems Doctors Bolton and McCallin created for the state of Colorado. Something to consider when publishing articles painting these two as community heroes.