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A study performed by the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth found that the lifetime earnings of each new four-year college graduate in the state will increase its gross domestic product by almost $2 million. (File/Staff)

A study performed by the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth found that the lifetime earnings of each new four-year college graduate in the state will increase its gross domestic product by almost $2 million.

The research assumed each graduate would work for 40 years after earning a bachelor’s degree. The study found that the economic benefit to the state’s economy would be $1,992,065 over that time period.

The student who earned a degree still benefits the most from it, however. About 61% of the value of a bachelor’s degree goes directly to the graduate, while the other 39% goes to the graduate’s employer, community and state, according to the study.

The study also found that the lifetime earnings of a Georgian who earns a bachelor’s degree are nearly twice as much as a Georgian with a high school diploma alone. A Georgian with a bachelor’s degree will earn an average of $2.61 million, while one with a high school diploma will earn $1.4 million over their 40 year work life.

A Georgian with a Master’s degree will earn an average of $2.82 million, a doctoral degree $3.47 million and a professional degree $3.63 million, according to the study.

Jeff Humphreys, director of the Selig Center, said the payback ratio for earning a bachelor’s degree in the state is 12-to-1. 

According to a 2018 survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, 33.4% of adults in Georgia have a bachelor’s degree, just short of the national average of 34%. If Georgia had matched the national rate in 2018, it would have added $1.7 billion to the state’s economy that year, according to the study. If 40% of Georgians had bachelor’s degrees, the state’s 2018 GDP would have increased by $18.2 billion.

The study’s findings suggest there aren’t enough Georgians with bachelor’s degrees to meet employers’ needs, Humphreys said. He said this is true for the whole nation, but especially in Georgia.