Study affirms earnings bump for community college grads

Study affirms earnings bump for community college grads

Investment in education pays off

Study affirms earnings bump for community college grads

Posted On: 10/01/21

A new study estimates earning a career-related associate degree or certificate from Kankakee Community College is worth extra lifetime earnings of $741,997.

Students who complete a KCC career-related programs start out earning $12,005 more per year compared to their pre-enrollment wages. The pay gap grows to $20,637 per year for the final 30 years of a graduate's work-life.

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The study was conducted by the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb under agreement with the Illinois Community College Board.

“The total cost during the two years the student is in school, including out of pocket expenses and foregone earnings is $33,939,” the findings state. “The return on investment occurs over a 40-year working life, where increased earnings for a degree completer are estimated to total more than $740,000 (compared to someone not attending community college).”

The additional wages equate to a 30.7 percent internal rate of return on the investment in a KCC education.

“KCC is an economic engine for this community,” said Dr. Michael Boyd, KCC president. “College degrees lead to higher-income jobs. That means more money in people's bank accounts, but also more dollars in our local economy.”

“Completing a degree or certificate is more important than ever,” said Dr. Kiana Battle, KCC vice president for Instruction and Student Success. “A KCC education helps you reach your career goals and earn more over your working life.”

The report also noted that KCC adds skills to the area workforce and boosts the competitiveness of local business.

KCC graduates are prepared to make a difference for area employers.

“When I was in high school, I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my future," said Morgan Dorsey, Xray Technologist for Riverside Healthcare and 2021 KCC Radiography program graduate. “I really honestly didn't even see myself going into the medical field. The reason I went to KCC in the first place was because I didn't want to start in a degree that I didn't know I would be comfortable with in four years. I think that KCC does a great job of making you feel comfortable before any career that you are going in to. I feel fully prepared, and I would just recommend that to anybody.”

Matthew Cato, a 2021 KCC Welding program graduate and employee at Vanguard Installations, felt ready for the workforce.

“(KCC) really prepared me to go out into the world," Cato said. "I feel a lot more confident now than I did when I first stepped through these doors, that young, uneducated, basically teenager. Now I feel like I can contend with the best of them. That is that mindset that KCC kind of creates.”

“I started working at Shoup while I was still at KCC,” said Zach Langlois, 2018 KCC Agri-Hort Technology program graduate. Langlois works in research and development/catalog design for Shoup Manufacturing in Kankakee and is a part-time farmer. “I studied agriculture business and considering that my full-time job is selling to the agriculture industry, KCC prepared me very well. It gave me an idea of how business works and how the ag industry is, from soil science to working directly with farmers. There was a little bit of everything I needed. KCC was a fantastic choice for me. Financially, I was able to take advantage of scholarships and other opportunities. I'm in no financial debt and I couldn't be happier with what I'm doing. It was just a perfect experience for me.”

“KCC graduates, and many residents, are lifelong learners who continue to take classes,” said Boyd.

The report reinforced that KCC graduates get jobs related to what they study.

“Among those who completed programs in 2009, 69.0% were employed (in a career job) one year after graduating, and 91.3% were employed in career jobs after 10 years,” the report states. A career job is employment in the person's chosen career field.

The study also looked at the class of 2009 who completed transfer degrees, and found that beginning five years after KCC completion, their earnings grew 5.3% each year. The study states that transfer graduates' earnings are studied beginning at the five-year point to account for the time it takes to finish a four-year degree.

KCC also is a major employer and business entity. The college employs 371 people directly, and its operations are association with about 464 jobs and $34.4 million in economic output, the report states.

KCC offers associate degrees and certificates of completion. It has an annual credit division enrollment of more than 3,600 students each year. The college prepares students both to transfer to four-year colleges and to enter the workforce. Also offered are continuing education training and personal development courses, certification training, literacy programs, English as a Second Language and high school equivalency/GED preparation.

Additional KCC information

Main campus and three extension centers
Riverfront Campus - Kankakee
North Extension Center - Bradley
South Extension Center - Watseka
Manufacturing and Industrial Technology Center - Kankakee

Student population
Fall 2021: 2,121

Career program areas:
Computer Graphic Technology
Health Careers
Industrial and Manufacturing Technologies
Law Enforcement

Transfer program areas:
Humanities and Social Sciences (includes Psychology, Communication, Art and others)
Math, Science and Engineering

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