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San Bernardino Community College District

San Bernardino Community College District Boosts Regional Economy By $723.2 Million Annually

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Report: Graduates Earn $8,600 More Annually Than High School Diploma Holders, Boosting Local Spending and Lowering Taxpayer Burden on Social Services


San Bernardino, Calif. — A recent study shows that the San Bernardino Community College District adds a significant $723.2 million annually to the local economy. This economic growth comes from investments in construction and operations, job opportunities, and a skilled workforce.

Dr. Stephanie Houston, Chair of the San Bernardino Community College District Board of Trustees, is excited about the results.

“We’ve always believed in the positive impact of community colleges, and now, the numbers make it clear. Our educational mission in the community creates a noticeable economic ripple effect,” said Houston.

In some cases, it’s more than just a small impact; it’s a substantial one. In 2020–21 alone, SBCCD contributed an impressive $9.6 million to the local economy through construction spending, as shown by the study.

Students also benefit from this economic wave. On average, graduates with associate degrees from Crafton Hills College and San Bernardino Valley College can earn an additional $8,600 per year compared to those working in California with only a high school diploma.

The study by Lightcast, a data company that compiles information from various government sources, reveals that SBCCD brings value from multiple angles. Students enjoy higher lifetime earnings, which, in turn, boost the region’s tax revenue.

These benefits accumulate and grow. For instance, SBCCD supports local businesses through ongoing construction projects, and these state-funded facilities attract new students, creating a growth cycle.

The district also benefits regional businesses by increasing consumer spending, including that of students, staff, faculty, and alumni. Even if students move away, their increased earning potential reduces their reliance on government-funded social services.

Students who invest in classes at Crafton Hills College and San Bernardino Valley College can expect a substantial return. For every dollar they invest in their education, they will see a cumulative value of $8.20 in higher future earnings. Annually, a student has an average return on investment of 23 percent, which is impressive compared to the U.S. stock market’s 30-year average return of 10.5 percent.

The societal impact is even more significant. A well-educated population is less likely to face issues like smoking, drinking, obesity, drug abuse, and depression. This leads to savings for the state’s healthcare and justice systems.

For every tax dollar invested in SBCCD, Californians will receive a cumulative value of $9 in benefits.

Local taxpayers, who play a vital role in funding and sustaining the community college district, can take pride in the fact that they receive more than they invest.

“In many cases, it’s the local taxpayers who see their graduates succeed each year,” noted Diana Z. Rodriguez, Chancellor of the San Bernardino Community College District. “At that moment, they witness the tangible results of their tax support.”

The study’s data and assumptions are based on various sources, including SBCCD’s 2020–21 academic and financial reports, industry and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, a Lightcast forecasting model, and various studies and surveys linking education to social behavior. The study follows standard practices and relies on well-recognized economic impact and investment effectiveness indicators.

SBCCD Economic Impact Infographic