A community college can fill educational, community and social needs in a region. Spending the first two years of a four-year degree at a community college and increased educational attainment levels could add $5.2 million in annual spending to eastern Idaho’s regional economy.
In May, Bonneville County voters approved a tax measure allowing Eastern Idaho Technical College to become a community college.
Now that eastern Idaho students will have the opportunity to attend a local community college, they can complete their first two years of a bachelor’s degree for less than half the cost of completing them at a four-year university. The annual average in-state tuition and fees for the public universities in Idaho is $7,153.75. The average tuition and fees at public two-year colleges is just $3,347 a year. Total average student debt could be cut by almost $8,000 per student just by completing the first two years at a community college. Based on enrollment projections regional residents could see a cumulative student debt savings of $3.2 million. The average monthly payment for student loan borrowers age 20-30 years old is $351, income that could instead be spent throughout the local economy.
In regions with a community college, an average of 26.1 percent of Idaho high school graduates go on to attend a community college. Enrollment projections show that within six years that percentage will hold true in eastern Idaho. The average wage of those individuals who graduate from the community college could increase up to $4,000 to $6,000 annually each, resulting in an additional $2 million or more of annual earned salaries throughout the region.
Students graduating from community college are prepared to be both workforce and university ready. A community college provides a financially responsible alternative to attending a university or a quick and relatively inexpensive education that could land students directly into mid-level employment. The availability of a local community college will alleviate some student debt burden on students as well as provide educational opportunities to those who otherwise would not have access.
Eastern Idaho is looking at a $5.2 million annual spending influx to the regional economy from shrinking debt and increased salaries alone. This is just one benefit that the community college will bring to the region.
Hope.Morrow@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 525-7268 ext. 4340