By Ben Kallos
By funding public college education for all – regardless of immigration status – the City will build a better workforce, earn more in taxes and become stronger. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree means $1 million more in lifetime earnings than a high school degree, according to the United State Census. In 2006, those with just a high school diploma earned just $31,071, while their peers with a bachelor’s degree earned $25,717 more with an average income of $56,788.
Earlier this year, the New York City Council passed Resolution 1671-2013 calling on the New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo to sign the New York State Dream Act, left out of this year’s State Budget, that would provide government funding for higher education of undocumented immigrant youth, of which 400,000 are currently attending public schools, who among other requirements entered the United States before they turned 18.
We can nearly double city, state and federal income tax collection by simply funding CUNY education through lower tuition, merit based scholarships, loans and other financial aid. Taxpayers could expect an immediate return of their investment within three years and, for an initial investment of $22,920, a forty-year payoff of $346,398. That is a return on investment of 15 times – better than you’ll do at any hedge fund.
City and state personal income taxes in 2012 for a high school graduate earning the average salary of $31,071 would be $962.71 and $1,687, respectively, while taxes for an average worker with a bachelor’s degree would be $1,878.31 and $3,345 respectively.
That is a combined difference of $2,574 each year. Including the difference in federal taxes that’s a total yearly return on investment of $8,660.
With CUNY tuition now at $22,900 over four years – more than many prospective students can afford – the state and city must restore funding to CUNY and restore the merit-based scholarship program.
Ben Kallos is an attorney and candidate for City Council in the Upper East Side’s 5th district.
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