Economic impact: Study shows for every dollar students invest at SRJC, they’ll receive $2.50 in their future careers

Laura Buel, Staff Writer

Santa Rosa Junior College generates upwards of $1.6 billion in tuition, living fees and an influx in local business traffic in Sonoma County. This financial boon enriches the lives of students, taxpayers and the county as a whole.

An Economic Modeling Specialists International’s economic impact study showed SRJC is special in that the college gives back more revenue to the county than it takes in.

The survey was conducted using data based on SRJC’s 2014-15 fiscal year, academic and financial reports, U.S. Bureau industry and employment data, outputs of EMSI’s social accounting matrix model and a variety of studies and surveys relating education to social behavior.

Researchers considered a multitude of factors, such as spending by students, college employees and local alumni spending.

According to the study, SRJC is the second largest employer in Sonoma County and 86 percent of employees live in the county. College employees spend a majority of their collective $111.9 million payroll on groceries, rent, dining out, clothing and other household supplies.

The executive study stated SRJC spends $61.7 million on expenses for facilities, professional services and supplies.

The study explained how SRJC brings students into the county who wouldn’t come to the area if the college was not here, and retains high school graduates. These students are responsible for an average $66.6 million of added income to the county’s economy during the analysis year.

The study stated alumni who achieve higher education create more revenue for the county; it’s estimated for every dollar students invest in their education at SRJC, they’ll receive $2.50 in their future careers. Students with an associate degree are more likely to make $10,110 more a year than a student with a high school general education diploma, and approximately $363,095 in higher earnings over a lifetime.

“I feel as though the education that I received at the Junior College is invaluable. It was the stepping stone for me to further my career and transfer to San Francisco State,” SRJC alumnus Kiki Arana said. “Although I may not return to Sonoma County, I will be able to obtain a better job than if I never attended school.”

The executive study declared education is proven to be connected with saving taxpayer’s money in health, crime and unemployment.

Higher education achieves these goals because it instills healthy habits and reduces the need for national health care services. It lowers the cost and need for law enforcement since students are less likely to commit crimes and creates more employable people, creating a lower demand for welfare and unemployment benefits. These cut spendings add up to around $57.9 million in savings to state and local taxpayers.

According to an SRJC press release, this EMSI study showed the benefits of the college and how it’s a major supporter of Sonoma County. The executive study backs this claim, declaring SRJC as a main financial contributor to the county. The $1.6 billion in revenue brought into the county is attributed to supporting 27,947 jobs.

SRJC culinary arts student Steven Selby said, “It makes me feel privileged to go to school here. We live in an economically driven county, and I hope to stay in the county and work.”

In the press release, SRJC President Dr. Frank Chong said, “We also plan to use the data to help us build even closer working relationships with businesses, organizations and government agencies, as they see the economic benefits of SRJC in the community.”