Total earnings for graduates of Arizona’s public universities increased 46 percent from $11.1 billion in 2010 to $16.2 billion in 2015, with an estimated $1.2 billion paid in state and local taxes.
Improved earnings and a strengthened tax base are tangible benefits of higher education. Demonstrating the earning power of a college degree, the 2016 Wages of Graduates Report reflects data that underscores the value of Arizona’s public universities. Arizonans with an undergraduate degree earn a median wage that is approximately $20,000 more each year than their peers with a high-school diploma. The contrast is even stronger among those with an Arizona graduate degree with median annual earnings that are approximately $33,000 more than individuals with no college education.
Median earnings in Arizona for an individual with a graduate degree were $60,884 and $49,801 for a bachelor’s degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey. A high school graduate made $27,947 – a 78 percent difference between a bachelor’s degree holder and a high school graduate.
Higher education matters more today in Arizona with the earnings gap widening in recent years. In 2007, an Arizonan with a bachelor’s degree earned a median wage that is 70 percent more than someone with a high school diploma. The difference has now increased to 78 percent, according to the 2016 report.