Is Community College A Good Investment?

Posted by | October 21, 2011 12:48 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

I’m sure it is a good investment for some people but is it a good investment for the government?  My already nascent doubts were heightened by the publication of an American Institutes for Research report:

The report by the nonprofit American Institutes for Research found that from 2004 to 2009, federal, state and local governments spent nearly $4 billion on full-time community college students who dropped out after their first year.

Now I can see some counterarguments (one year of community college helps people, we need to target the money better, etc.) but I remain skeptical.  I’m a big believer in investing in education but I also believe that we should invest where our societal returns are the highest.  And my guess is that the money spent on community colleges would be better spent on early childhood and elementary education.  If we spend more here, then we might find we had the need to spend a lot less later on.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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