Report details economic impact of community colleges in Aurora and around Colorado


AURORA | A study released by the Colorado Community College System this month tracks the economic impact of the 13 schools in the organization’s network, including the Community College of Aurora.

The study, conducted by the firm Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc., details the statewide economic impact of the college system, as well as the individual rates of economic return by community college students who go on to professional careers. The study drew on economic growth and investment analyses for its findings.

CCA’s total economic impact measured in the study totaled about $180 million annually, a figure that aligns with the average calculated over the past 28 years. Specifically, the study spelled out an average yearly contribution of about $170 million from student earnings since 1984. That figure comes from earnings and business output, and data from 2009-10 academic and financial reports from the college, as well as data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for its findings.

The Economic Modeling Specialists study also broke down the contributions at CCA by investments, showing that every dollar spent on tuition by CCA students translates to $3.70 in higher income. What’s more, the study details the rate of return for taxpayers at more than 9 percent. The study also looked at geographic elements behind enrollment at CCA’s CentreTech and Lowry campuses — about 22.7 percent of the school’s students come from outside the school’s service area. That amounts to about $1.9 million in added income, the study shows.

The data from the Community College System comes in the same month that the national Student Loan Debt Clock topped $1 trillion and the U.S. Senate debated keeping the interest rate for federally subsidized student loans at 3.4 percent.

“This independent analysis makes it clear that continued and increased investment in the Community College of Aurora is a sure way to boost the Aurora economy,” CCA interim president Geri Anderson said in a statement.

Results from the wider CCCS system, which includes 13 community colleges and serves an annual student base of about 162,000, show a total local economic impact of $3.01 billion annually. That figure includes total earnings of students after graduation and the output of businesses who hire graduates as trained professionals. The totals show that CCCS graduates receive an average of 11 percent return on the money invested in community college, adjusting for inflation.


Reach reporter Adam Goldstein at [email protected] or 720-449-9707