Study Finds State Universities Graduates Earn More

A new economic study suggests having a degree from one of Florida’s 11 state universities can mean a financial boost.

The study was conducted at the request of the Board of Governors by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Economic Impact Analysis Program and the Florida State Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis.

Julie Harrington, director of Florida State’s Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis, said the BOG requested the economic study to update earlier figures.

The study findings were presented to the BOG at its Jan. 19 meeting. The final report was released to the public and sent to the Florida Legislature on Feb. 13.

Economists found that during the 2009-2010 fiscal year, which ended in July 2010, an estimated $52 billion was added to the economy.

The importance and value of a university degree has gone up. With a degree, a university graduate can potentially earn more than $1 million in his or her lifetime.

“In terms of percentage of gross national product,” said Harrington, “the economic impact resulting from an SUS-earned degree is comparable to the economic impact of all defense spending in Florida — 7.25 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively.”

Alan W. Hodges, extension scientist and director of the Economic Impact Analysis Program said, while the numbers look encouraging, “there is no guarantee of increased earnings, of course.”

The study was based on the data from the Florida Educational Training and Placement Information system, managed by the Florida Department of Education, which tracks the employment status and quarterly earnings of Florida high school, college and university graduates that are employed in Florida.

“We calculated the average difference between high school and university graduates in annual and lifetime earnings as an indication of the value of a university degree,” Hodges said.

·Those with a high school diploma, $20,924;

·Those with a bachelor’s degree, $36,520;

·Those with a master’s degree, $58,698;

·Those with a doctorate, $66,743, and

·Professionals, such as physicians or attorneys, $70,716.

According to a press release, “economists estimated that the universities and related businesses are responsible directly and indirectly for about 771,000 jobs in the state, or 7.9 percent of the state’s workforce.”

Hodges said the FETPIP data is limited to people employed in Florida. Based on some earlier research, “we assumed that about 60 percent of university graduates remain in Florida eight years after graduation, and therefore continue contributing to the economy of the state,” he added.

Students understand the value of an education from a state university.

“After hearing about this new study, I am glad I made the right choice by going to school to obtain a degree in PR,” said Christopher Brown, a senior public relations student. “My mother and others have always told me that it was important to have a university degree. After hearing about this new study, this proves to me that they were right.”

The 11 state public universities include: Florida State, University of Florida, University of West Florida, FAMU, the University of North Florida, the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida, New College of Florida, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida Atlantic and Florida International.