Benefits of a College Education

Benefits of a College Education

Ken Shaw

Many communities would love to have two institutions of higher education within their neighborhoods.  Having Hill College and Southwestern Adventist University in Johnson County is a real blessing.  If students graduate from Hill College or Southwestern Adventist University, they are more likely to remain in this area.  It is our graduates that will fill the openings within our businesses and will continue to be active in our community.

I recently read an issue paper published in 2015 by the Lumina Foundation that reminded me of the benefits of a college education, not only for the graduate, but for the community as well. 

Benefits to the College Graduate

College graduates with bachelor’s degrees benefit in the following ways compared to high school graduates never attending college:

  1. Their annual earnings are $32,000 higher with lifetime earnings being $625,000 higher,
  2. Their probability of being in poverty is 3.5 times less likely,
  3. They have a 47% higher likelihood of carrying health insurance and 72% higher likelihood of having a retirement plan,
  4. They have a 24% greater probability of being employed,
  5. Their age of retirement is higher,
  6. The likelihood of reporting their health to be very good or excellent is 44% greater,
  7. The likelihood of being a regular smoker is 3.9 times lower; while the likelihood of exercising, having a healthy diet, and seeking preventative medical care are significantly higher,
  8. Their life expectancy is 7 years longer,
  9. Their probability of being married is 21% higher and their probability of being divorced or separated is 61% lower, and
  10. The likelihood of their being happy is significantly higher.

Benefits to the Community

There are also many substantial benefits to the community in which the college graduates live:

  1. Their lifetime taxes are $273,000 greater; this supports government services and social insurance programs,
  2. They rely much less on other taxpayers,
  3. The crime rate is significantly lower,
  4. They volunteer 2.3 times more often,
  5. They provide 3.4 times higher cash donations to charities,
  6. Their voting and political involvement are significantly higher,
  7. Their participation in school, community, service, civic and religious organizations is substantially (1.9 times) higher, with leadership in these organizations being 3.2 times greater,
  8. They are 2.6 times more likely to be involved in their community,
  9. Their neighborhood interactions and trust are significantly higher, and
  10. Their employment in the nonprofit sector is twice as likely.


The State of Texas also recognizes these benefits as they have boldly proposed a 60x30TX Higher Education Plan, which focuses on having 60% of the 25-to 34-year-old Texas population holding a certificate or degree by 2030.  The current status is 41%.  Increasing this to 60% will aid the state in being a global economic player, with an educated workforce to meet the needs of industry and business. 


Higher education makes a positive difference in the lives of graduates and impacts the communities where they live.  I am sure my respected colleague, Dr. Pam Boehm, president of Hill College, would agree with me that working for this community in preparing young people to obtain a certificate or degree is an awesome responsibility and a tremendous privilege.  It is rewarding knowing that when students successfully complete their requirements and receive their certificates or diplomas, they and their families will be

greatly benefited throughout the remainder of their lives, and the community will be the added beneficiary of their education.

This article is an opinion piece written by President Shaw for the Cleburne Times Review.