This paper quantifies the fiscal impacts that increasing levels of college educational attainment has on the tax revenues received by and the expenditures of governments at all levels: federal, state, and local. College graduates prove to be more fiscally valuable citizens than non-college graduates to society. They generate more in taxable income for the government, and they rely less upon a range of public assistance programs. The average college degree generates approximately $361,115 in total federal taxes in present value, and $182,795 in total state and local taxes in present value. The average college degree results in a reduction of approximately $14,784 across measured public assistance programs. Consumption of Social Security benefits sees relatively little change with the acquisition of a college degree. Supplemental Security Income, unemployment compensation, and worker’s compensation, all see reductions in consumption in association with higher educational attainment. Uninsurance rates and public healthcare costs both decline as degree attainment rises.
Spaulding, Jacob, "The Fiscal Effects of Public Investment in College Education" (2019). Honors College. 536.