Billions to Gain: The Economic Benefits of Investing in a More Educated Arizona

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The value of cultivating a more educated Arizona is not news to economists, industry and community leaders, the education field, or policymakers. It is among the main reasons that, in 2015, Arizona established the Achieve60AZ attainment goal with the intent of ensuring that 60 percent of adults ages 25-64 in the state hold a postsecondary credential (certificate or degree) by 2030.

Nearly eight years later, we are still a long way from reaching our collective goal. As the latest data tracked by the Arizona Education Progress Meter show, the postsecondary attainment rate was just over 46 percent in 2020.

Approximately 25 percent of high school graduates in Arizona who are eligible do not go to community college or a four-year university. Many fewer—just one in ten—earn advanced degrees. What is more, postsecondary attainment patterns are stratified along all too familiar racial and socioeconomic lines. Consequently, communities, municipalities, and regions, and Arizona as a whole, are all missing out on the extraordinary aggregate benefits that result from having a more educated populace.

All told, the billions in economic gains that come from expanding postsecondary enrollment and completion—not to mention the thousands of individuals empowered with greater economic opportunity and prosperity—more than justify the investments required of the state to ensure that more students graduate high school and go on to pursue a postsecondary education.

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