The Importance of Graduating High School

Generally, higher FCAT achievement, low absenteeism, grade promotion, low dropout rates, and less interaction with the juvenile justice system have all been associated with a higher likelihood of completing high school, which has significant effects on the individual and taxpayers in general. High school graduates earn higher salaries on average than those who do not graduate from high school, which benefits them directly, and also translates to indirect benefits to the economy as a whole by increased discretionary spending capacity, higher tax collections, and lower social program costs. UNEMPLOYMENT High school graduates are less likely to face unemployment and depend on government assistance relative to those that did not complete high school. The latest unemployment rate data available for various degrees of educational attainment shows that the unemployment rate was 4.4 percentage points more severe for those who did not complete high school, and the unemployment rate drops for each higher level of educational achievement. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 9.2 percent of the working poor in 2010, were high school graduates with no further degree of educational attainment, whereas 21.4 percent of the working poor had no high school diploma.

Those who are considered the working poor are much more likely to utilize taxpayer-funded assistance programs. Nationally, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, 43.2 percent of Temporary Assistance to Needy Family (TANF) recipients did not have 12 years of formal education. According to the DOE Annual Outcomes Report, of the 2009-10 group measured, 45 percent of those receiving public assistance were high school dropouts.

POVERTY Recent data shows that the poverty rate for those with less than a high school diploma was 28.4 percent, as compared to 16.1 percent for those who completed high school. Poverty rates are lower for the population with higher and advanced degrees.

OVERALL ECONOMIC IMPACT According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the cost of Grade Retention nationally was over $34.8 billion in 2009 for grades K–8.

For every 10 students not held back in any given year, taxpayers realize a total cost avoidance of at least $92,100 per year Students who successfully complete high school are significantly more likely to have a better future and thus give back to society. According to the U.S. Census, on average, persons with a high school diploma or the equivalent earn approximately $7,270 more (or 42.3 percent) per year than those without a high school diploma.

Applying the Census figures on average wages from above, each FBGC participant that graduates from high school will have additional lifetime earnings of $290,800, assuming a 40-year career, compared to non-high school graduates. These career earnings are made even more possible without the barriers to employment that a criminal background brings an individual. Assuming that 100 individuals at risk of not completing high school would actually graduate, the expected aggregate lifetime earnings increase for these 100 graduates over their career is $29,080,000.

 (Taken from the Florida Tax Watch)