Return on investment: Economic Opportunity Report shows positive impact on graduates, state

May 23, 2016

Economic Opportunity Report

A Michigan education with a close-knit campus feel. Faculty with real-world experience.  Research opportunities.

There are many qualitative answers to the question: “Why earn a degree at University of Michigan-Dearborn?”

But a new Economic Opportunity Impact Report conducted and compiled by Associate Professor of Business Economics Lee Redding, iLabs Director Tim Davis, and Decision Sciences Lecturer Anne-Louise Statt quantifies the “Why?” and finds that UM-Dearborn graduates earn more than their peers nationwide.

“Hearing from our students, many who are first generation, we know the impact the university has on their lives,” Redding said. “But we wanted numbers to show this too.

“Stories are nice, but people want hard numbers. They are investing in their futures or their children’s futures when paying for college. We wanted to show the return on that investment.”

The report showed:

  • Those whose most advanced degree is an UM-Dearborn bachelor’s earn $81,101, $43,140 more than if they had not earned that degree.
  • Those whose most advanced degree is an UM-Dearborn master’s earn $105,600, $48,000 more than if they had not earned that degree.
  • Each year alumni earn $1.8 billion more than they would have without the education they worked for at the university.
  • Recognizing that approximately 75 percent of UM-Dearborn alumni stay in Michigan, the increase in their incomes shows that every dollar the state invests, alumni are providing an additional $4 in tax return.

When you include various aspects of the UM-Dearborn undergraduate student body, 43 percent are PELL eligible, over half are the first generation to attend college, 26 percent are minorities, higher than average salary earnings provide UM-Dearborn students with a real advantage to transform their lives and change the trajectory of their family’s success.

The team—who previously led economic impact studies for Detroit Metro Airport and Willow Run Airport—reached out to the UM-Dearborn alumni base to provide information for their report.

A typical economic impact study looks at immediate cash infusion.

But—because college is a long-term investment—they decided to do something different and look at the how the education and connections received on campus generates opportunities later in life.

“We wanted to go beyond the traditional economic impact measures and see how academic work completed at UM-Dearborn generates opportunities throughout a graduate’s working life,” Redding said.

The study shows that UM-Dearborn is an outstanding investment— echoing the news from the United States Department of Education Scorecard’s 2015 findings.

The Department of Education Scorecard showed an average annual net price for in-state, undergraduate students is the lowest among Michigan’s 15 public universities.

The Scorecard also highlights that an average UM-Dearborn alumni salary 10 years after graduation is more than 25 percent higher than the national average.

“People come to UM-Dearborn and have their lives transformed. And then they do the same for the Michigan communities where they work and reside. It matches nicely with our Metropolitan vision,” Davis said. “The UM-Dearborn degree is an investment that continually has positive returns.”

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