Investment in higher education has an impact that extends beyond the individual, according to a survey commissioned by Prosperity 2020 and conducted by Dan Jones & Associates.
For every member of a household that earns a postsecondary degree or certificate, the likelihood increases that siblings and children will do so, as well.
The Prosperity 2020 movement aims to have two-thirds of all Utah adults holding a college degree or certificate by the end of the decade. A well-educated workforce will propel Utah’s economy and create enduring prosperity.
A child raised in a family in which neither parent has a degree or certificate has less than a 30 percent chance of obtaining a higher level of education than his parents. Compare that to a child raised in a home in which one parent has a degree or certificate and that rate jumps to over 40 percent.
The positive impact of educational achievement within the family is not limited to a parent-child relationship. Siblings who obtain postsecondary education play a significant role in elevating achievement levels among their siblings, as well. In fact, the survey shows children raised in a home in which neither parent has a degree or certificate but a sibling does, have better than a 55 percent chance of earning a degree or certificate themselves.
The rates continue to improve as you combine parental and sibling achievement. Raised in a household with one parent and one sibling holding a postsecondary degree or certificate, a child has nearly a 65 percent chance of completing a degree or certificate.
The highest probability that a child will earn a degree or certificate is found when both parents and a sibling have done so. A child raised in this environment will have over a 75 percent chance of earning a postsecondary degree or certificate.
The benefits of higher education correspond with higher income levels. The more education you have, the more money you can earn. It also appears success follows success. An individual who earns a degree or certificate begins or continues the ripple effect that will likely impact their family for generations.
So the goal is to increase the number of Utah adults who hold a postsecondary degree or certificate.
Interestingly, the survey also looked into reasons for not completing a post-secondary degree or certificate. By a wide margin, marriage and children were the top reason, followed by expense and balancing work with school.
Only one percent said they didn’t earn a degree or certificate because their spouse or partner had one and only two percent said they could earn more money without a degree or certificate.
Achieving the Prosperity 2020 goal of two-thirds of Utah adults with a degree or certificate is within our reach. Helping those who left college just a few credits short of an associate’s or bachelor’s degree—especially among those who cited marriage and children as a reason to leave school or other training programs—could yield significant results. Not everyone is starting from scratch.
The recent economic downturn and slower than anticipated recovery have sent many back to campus and into training programs looking to enhance their resumes in a difficult job market. Helping those who cited the expense of education find loans, grants and other sources of funding would also move us significantly toward our goal.
A focus on increasing the graduation and achievement rates will certainly be a boost for the Utah economy.