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The Grow By Degrees panel says Virginia more than recoups its investment in higher ed.
Friday, September 6, 2013
A coalition of Virginia business leaders, legislators and higher education officials held events in Roanoke and across the state Thursday calling attention to the link between public higher education and economic growth.
The Grow By Degrees coalition presented an economic impact study showing every tax dollar invested in public higher education generates $1.29 in new state tax revenues and $17.40 of economic activity.
“Our public investment more than pays for itself,” said Nancy Agee, CEO and president of Carilion Clinic.
Agee and other officials, including several area college presidents, met in Roanoke at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute on Thursday to discuss the study, tout progress that’s been made to bolster higher education in Virginia and lay out a policy agenda for the years ahead. Grow By Degrees held similar events in Norfolk and Richmond on Thursday.
According to the study, Virginia’s yearly investment in public higher education generates $28.4 billion in economic activity and returns $2.1 billion in state tax revenues. It also accounts for 131,200 jobs.
The study, conducted by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, was commissioned by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council.
Officials in Roanoke said that since the Grow By Degrees coalition was launched in 2009 they’ve been successful in funneling more money to higher education and increasing the number of undergraduate students enrolled in the state’s colleges and universities.
The Grow By Degrees coalition was launched four years ago by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council after state budget cuts to higher education, with the goal of reversing those cuts.
Heywood Fralin, the council’s chairman, said that since then an additional 14,000 undergraduate students have been able to enroll in higher education, and the past two years have had the lowest tuition increases in a decade.
House Majority Leader Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, said officials want to build on that progress.
“The great thing about today is we’re trying to sustain this momentum,” he said. “It’s not a one-time thing.”
Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said progress doesn’t happen in one year and there must be a sustained commitment.
“I’m very optimistic about the future and what we can achieve,” he said.
The Grow By Degrees policy agenda calls for increased state support of financial aid for middle-income students and families; incentive funding for schools that provide the option of purchasing four-year tuition guarantees; performance incentives for schools that place a priority on STEM-H degrees; and enhanced state grants for students who attend community college for two years and then transfer to a four-year institute, among other items.
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