Florida College System a big boost to Florida economy, study finds

Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 9:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 9:28 p.m.

A recent study has found that the Florida College System has a $26.6 billion annual economic impact on Florida's economy.

The Council of Presidents for the system commissioned the study, which was conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists International.

According to a news release provided by the Florida College System, the study examined students' increases in productivity. It also examined spending by the colleges and by students.

Santa Fe College President Jackson Sasser said he sees the importance of the study's findings simplt that students are getting a bang for their buck while contributing to the economy.

"It's a return on investment," he said. "That's the bottom line."

According to the study, SF College contributes $372.1 million net, or 4 percent, to the GDP of Alachua and Bradford counties.

At the College of Central Florida, officials have touted the $349.7 million impact on its tri-county service area, which includes Citrus, Levy and Marion counties.

"When we combine the impact of all 28 Florida College System institutions, the impact is phenomenal, and it reminds us of the power of our education system," said Jim Henningsen, president CCF.

Gov. Rick Scott noted in a statement regarding the study that the news comes on the heels of the announcement that Florida has added more than 280,000 private-sector jobs during the last two years.

"This report is great news in support of our goal to create more jobs and strengthen education," he said.

Chancellor of the Florida College System Randy Hanna said in a statement that the study reflects the system's goals to provide access to education and job training while meeting the communities' needs.

"The results from the economic impact study confirm something we already knew: The Florida College System is an important economic development engine for the state," he said.

Last year, the Florida College System awarded 105,798 degrees and certificates, and 93 percent of graduates stay in Florida.

Joe Pickens, chairman of the Council of Presidents and president of St. Johns River State College, said in a statement he was thankful for support from the state to help colleges provide a boost to the economy.

"We are grateful to our state leaders for their wise investment that touches the lives of so many Floridians," he said.

According to the study, the system's 28 colleges serve one out of every 21 Floridians. Of graduates, 88 percent are employed or continuing their education within one year of graduation.

The study found that bachelor's degree graduates had an average salary of $46,186, and those who get an associate in science degree earn an average salary of $44,095.

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