Report demonstrates financial value of earning a college degree
September 30, 2021
Earning a college degree pays long-term benefits not only to individuals, but to the state’s economy. The Arizona Board of Regents Fiscal Year 2020 Alumni Wages Report, approved by the board today, illustrates the significant financial value of earning a university degree.
“The benefits of a university degree are clear,” said ABOR Chair Lyndel Manson. “Individuals with a degree not only command higher salaries but also drive the prosperity of our state’s economy. Degree holders have better quality of life, have more opportunities in the job market and contribute significantly to the tax base, providing a robust economy for all. It remains a crucial priority for the board and our state to increase educational attainment in Arizona, especially as the pace of change accelerates and transforms the way we work, requiring a more educated workforce for the future.”
An individual in Arizona with a bachelor’s degree earns median wages of $52,077 - $20,706 higher annually than peers with a high school diploma who earn $31,371. Median wages for an individual with a graduate degree are $69,902 – more than double the wages of peers with a high school diploma - and $32,886 more than individuals with an associate degree or some college.
In 2020, 330,655 public university degree recipients earned $23.9 billion in Arizona wages and paid an estimated $1.7 billion in state taxes.
Graduates are also more likely to be employed and have stronger earning power five years after graduation – even when factoring in the impact of student-loan debt. Median wages of graduates one, five, 10 and 20 years after graduation have all increased since 2010.
The report also details wages for a variety of majors offered at Arizona’s public universities, each of which garners median wages specific to the field and market forces. Fields with the highest salaries for individuals with bachelor’s degrees are computer science and engineering. For graduate degree recipients, the highest median wages are in computer sciences, engineering and business. Graduate median wages, student loan debt at graduation and debt-to-income ratios vary considerably across instructional programs.
The board’s New Economy Initiative is designed to enhance educational attainment in the state and advance Arizona’s competitiveness with strategic investments in areas of strength at our three public universities. Also developed to increase educational attainment and access, the Arizona Promise Program scholarship is a guaranteed scholarship to cover university tuition and fees for students from low-income families.