Budget Central

Value of a CSU Education




The workforce of the 21st century requires college-educated professionals. In fact, a college degree is quickly becoming the minimum level of entry for most occupations. The good news is that a college degree pays a lifetime of benefits. Numerous studies have shown that college-educated citizens contribute to their communities, are more likely to vote and are less dependent on social services. But the benefits of a college education do not end with the individual. The state of California is highly dependent on high-quality public universities like the CSU to supply the knowledge-educated workforce to the state’s leading industries. The success of these industries contributes to California’s strong economy and an unparalleled quality of life for its residents.

Quality of Life for the Student

The College Board reports that a bachelor’s degree holder earns 60 percent more than a high school graduate, a difference of almost $20,000 per year and $800,000 over a lifetime. A college degree also opens a wider range of job and career choices than a high school diploma.

Median Yearly Earnings, by Education Level

CSU graduates’ average starting median salary is $46,784, which is higher than the national average ($43,913) of graduates from the top 175 public universities. Mid-career, CSU graduates make $83,838, while their peers from comparable universities nationwide on average make $78,144.

Quality of life, however, is more than a salary. According to the College Board, a full-time employee with a bachelor’s degree or higher is twice as likely to be offered an employer-provided pension, half as likely to be unemployed, and more likely to have health insurance.

Benefits for the California Taxpayer

The CSU system awards almost 90 percent of the state’s education, criminal justice, social work and public administration degrees; better than half of the business, agriculture and communications degrees; and more than a third of the engineering, information technology, and life sciences degrees. The CSU is an investment in human capital that pays long-term dividends in terms of personal achievement, workforce development, and economic growth. For every $1 invested in the CSU, the return to the state’s economy is $4.41.

A comprehensive view of the CSU’s impact on California can be found here.