USG’s Economic Impact Grows to $20.1B as Graduates Earn $1+ Million More with Their College Degrees

Staff Report

Thursday, August 10th, 2023

The University System of Georgia (USG) contributed a total of $20.1 billion to Georgia’s economy between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, a $800 million or 4.14% increase over the previous year, a new study shows. 

Conducted on behalf of USG by Jeffrey M. Humphreys, Ph.D., director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, the study also showed USG over the same period generated 159,034 full- and part-time jobs across Georgia.

Concurrently, Humphreys in a companion study found that USG bachelor’s graduates from the Class of 2022 will earn over $1 million more during their lifetimes than they would have without their college degree.

“USG’s 26 public colleges and universities, individually and collectively, make a significant economic impact across the state, helping to put Georgians to work while spending money in local communities and helping their regional economies support Georgia’s growth,” USG Chancellor Sonny Perdue said. “At the same time, our graduates are the real winners with this million-dollar deal. We’re focused on continuing to help all our students be successful as they use their degrees to prepare themselves for their future prosperity.”

The $20.1 billion total economic impact for fiscal year 2022, up from $19.3 billion in fiscal year 2021, included $14.2 billion in initial spending by students and by USG’s 26 institutions on personnel and operating expenses. The remaining $5.9 billion is the multiplier impact of those funds in a local community.

Of the 159,034 jobs generated by USG institutions, approximately 32% of the positions are on-campus jobs and 68% are off-campus. The study found that for each job created by a USG institution on its campus, two additional jobs are created in the local community. Data also show USG and its institutions create the same employment impact in the state as Georgia’s top five employers combined.

In the companion study, findings show the breakdown of how much each level of higher education can add to a USG graduate’s total earnings over the course of their lives. They offer additional evidence about how earnings increase substantially with each step up in earned degree. 

On average, each credential generates additional earnings over a USG graduate’s lifetime by:

  • Certificate: +$238,455

  • Associate degree: +$377,000

  • Bachelor’s degree: +$1,152,500

  • Master’s degree: +$1,399,500

  • Professional degree: +$2,167,500

  • Ph.D.: +$2,037,500

Based on work-life earnings estimates for Georgia, the analysis showed that the 71,731 USG graduates from the Class of 2022 can expect combined total lifetime earnings of $183 billion, which is $60 billion more than they could expect to earn had they not gone on to college or graduate school. 

The study shows graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree will earn over $1 million more throughout their lives. In fact, high school graduates who obtain a bachelor’s degree will boost their work-life earnings in Georgia by 82%, exceeding the 80% increase estimated for the nation.

The average increase in lifetime earnings fluctuates year-to-year for each graduating class depending on how many bachelor’s degrees are awarded compared to the other degree categories. If factoring in less-than-four-year degrees for the Class of 2022, the average amount of extra earnings is $830,203.

“In sum, higher education pays off, especially for high school graduates who obtain bachelor’s degrees,” the report said.

The full economic impact report and lifetime earnings reports are available at USG’s website.