Garden City Community College is a recipient of Finney County property taxes, and though the amount is dwindling, GCCC also still receives a significant share of funding from the state.

However, the local economy and the economy of the state actually benefit considerably from the dollars invested in GCCC and the 18 other community colleges in Kansas a benefit that far outweighs the expenses.

That reality is apparent in a new study completed by the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees. The report is entitled "Economic Contributions of Kansas Community Colleges," and it was researched and assembled by Linda Fund, the KACCT executive director.

Extensive benefits

Published last month, the study shows that not only do our students benefit by building stronger earning power through their education, but taxpayers benefit, too, from all of the following:

* A stronger and larger economy

* Reduced social service costs

* Increased job and investment opportunities

* Higher business revenues

* Greater availability of public funds

* A lower overall tax burden.

Economic value to students

In a typical year, Kansas community colleges serve more than 132,000 students in credit programs, and nearly 30,000 others in non-credit programs. Those community college students can count on higher lifetime income. As a matter of fact, at the career midpoint of someone with an associate's degree in Kansas, that person will earn approximately $41,600, which is 35 percent more than someone who has completed only a high school diploma.

Another way of looking at it is this students in Kansas community colleges receive a 14.3 percent rate of return on their investment, in terms of educational costs, according to the study. In effect, for every dollar a student invests in a Kansas community college, his or her lifetime income increases by $4.90.

Importance to state

There's also a great deal of benefit for the state overall from the presence of the 19 Kansas community colleges. Each year, the Kansas tax base grows by $306.8 million because of the education that the men and women of the state receive at GCCC and the 18 other community colleges. In addition, the state saves $13.6 million annually in social service costs because of improved health, reduced crime and reduced welfare and unemployment expenses attributable to the presence of our community colleges.

Return on investment

It's true, of course, that state and local taxpayers put in a significant share of money to support community colleges, but those funds are well spent. In an average year, support to Kansas community colleges equates to about $331 million. However, for every dollar invested, the return over the course of a student's working career is $1.40. At the same time, state and local governments receive a rate of return calculated at 4.7 percent on the support that they provide, and that's a figure that compares very favorably with the rate of return on long-term investments in the private sector.

In terms of economic growth, the community colleges of Kansas also provide a valuable return. Due to the operation of the community colleges, according to the KACCT:

* The Kansas economy benefits by almost $239 million each year.

* The additional income generated by the credits attained by community college students amounts to an annual total of $3.4 billion.

The majority of the students at GCCC and our sister institutions are Kansas residents, by the way, but an average of 11 percent of those enrollees come from other states. Those out-of-state students spend about $16.6 million each year in Kansas, making the state's businesses more profitable and successful.

Nine decades of productivity

The productivity that Kansas community college students and graduates reach because of their learning is a significant factor, too. The added income that can be credited to a community college education amounts to $3.3 billion each year.

If you're interested in additional details, you can visit kacct.org and click the "Fuel the Economy" icon to view the full report.

We're proud to serve the people of southwest Kansas with high-quality education, and we're proud to be one of the engines of economic development, too. In fact, we've been fueling the economy for nearly 93 years now at Garden City Community College.