Coalition seeks investment in higher education

by Bill Wyatt


Grow By Degrees aims to fuel Virginia’s strong recovery and sustained economic growth through high-impact investments and innovations in Virginia’s colleges, universities and community colleges.

Launched in 2009 by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, the Grow By Degrees coalition is comprised of business and community leaders, economic development officials and organizations, college and university leaders, public officials, students and parents who share the conviction that Virginia’s economic future is fundamentally tied to higher education.

According to an economic impact study conducted by the Weldon Cooper Center at the University of Virginia, for every tax dollar the state invests in public higher education, the result is $17.40 in economic activity and $1.29 in new state tax revenues. Virginia’s yearly investment in public higher education generates $28.4 billion in economic activity, accounts for 131,200 jobs, and returns $2.1 billion in state tax revenues.

Grow By Degrees’ funding and strategic plan is based on the following seven policy priorities:

  • Awarding an additional 100,000 new college degrees by 2025
  • Concentrating new degrees in high-income, high-demand sectors such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics and other areas where there is a shortage of skilled workers
  • Creating innovative and cost-efficient new ways to access college degrees
  • Expanding job-specific training at Virginia’s broadly popular and affordable community colleges
  • Increasing public-private collaboration on university-based research
  • Enhancing economic development and work force training in each region of the state with colleges, universities and community colleges playing prominent roles
  • Making college more affordable to low- and middle-income students and families

In 2011, the General Assembly passed The Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011. Accompanying the “Top Jobs” or “TF21” law were new state appropriations providing nearly $400 million to Virginia’s colleges, universities and community colleges during 2011-14 — funding that has begun to reverse the previous decade’s deep cuts in per-student state support, enabled colleges and universities to enroll 14,000 additional undergraduate students since 2009, resulted in the lowest public university tuition increases in a decade and increased the percentage of working-age Virginians with an associate or higher degree from 42 percent to 45 percent.

The governor’s proposed budget for the 2014-16 biennium includes $183.1 million in new reformed-based investments for Virginia’s higher education system. These potential investments are currently being considered by the General Assembly.

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Published: Thursday, January 16, 2014

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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