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Poll finds higher education offers wide range of benefits to grads in Utah

degrees are valuable

A survey of 1,200 Utah residents commissioned by Prosperity 2020, a group of Utah business leaders with a pro-education agenda, and conducted by Dan Jones & Associates has found that people with a post-secondary degree or certificate earn more money, live happier lives and are a bigger benefit to their community than those with no education beyond high school.

The poll found that people with a bachelor's degree earn about $650,000 more over the course of their working life than high school graduates do. "The benefits of a college degree extend beyond monetary value too, as individuals with college degrees experience increased career opportunities, better health care benefits and overall a deeper quality of life," Utah Commissioner of Higher Education Bill Sederburg said in a statement. "Degree holders are also more likely to have increased civic involvement and often donate more to local charities and volunteer their time in the community."

According to the survey results, the mean individual income level is 75 percent higher among people with a post-secondary degree or certificate than those without, and those with post-secondary degrees or certificates are more than two and a half times more likely to work in salaried positions rather than hourly jobs.

The benefits extend across all facets of a person's life--those who hold college degrees or certificates are more likely to report personal happiness, to have what they consider to be great relationships, to characterize themselves as having good families, and to be in good health than those without the same level of education.

Those without a post-secondary degree or certificate, the poll found, are more than twice as likely to have utilized Medicaid, WIC and CHIP in the last five years, and over three times as likely to have used food stamps, as those with a degree or certificate.

The impact of higher education is felt throughout families, as well. A child with two parents who didn't earn a college degree or certificate has a 27.8 percent chance of earning either a degree or certificate, while a child with at least one parent who has earned a degree or certificate has a 41.8 percent chance of doing so.

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