The Florida College System released an study Monday indicating that the 28 state college campuses generate $26.6 billion in economic activity, while providing education to tens of thousands of young people ready for careers they might otherwise not be able to afford.
State Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna, a Chipola State College teacher who is speaker pro tempore of the House, joined a large group of college presidents and other higher education officials at a news conference to discuss the study. She said students in small towns often can't commute to a state university, so the geographic distribution and open-enrollment policy provide "an affordable but quality education."
"Approximately 93 percent of Florida College System students remain in Florida and contribute to our overall economic growth," she said.
The council released a study by Economic Modeling Specialists International, indicating an 88 percent rate of job placement or continuing higher education for state college graduates. The study showed high placement rates in nursing, teaching and business jobs -- with average salaries of $45,186 for graduates with bachelor degrees and $44,095 for those with associate in science degrees.
Gov. Rick Scott did not attend the news conference in front of the House chamber, but sent a statement saying Florida has added more than 280,000 private-sector jobs during the past two years. He said he was proud that all state colleges offering four-year degrees accepted his recent challenge to produce baccalaureate degree programs costing no more than $10,000.