By William Serrata, Ph.D.
Like community colleges across the country, El Paso Community College creates value both for students and the community. Community colleges play a vital role in helping students develop the skills necessary to have a fulfilling and prosperous career.
EPCC offers 145 academic programs, workforce training and is the pathway for many students to pursue baccalaureate degrees. Our impact goes beyond influencing the lives of students. EPCC also has significant economic impact on our city, region and state which will become increasingly important in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
EPCC’s programs support a variety of industry sectors in our region. The college trains the skilled workers local employers need to make their businesses more productive and profitable.
In July, the Texas Comptroller’s Office released a comprehensive study showing the economic impact of community colleges statewide as well as the impact of EPCC on the Upper Rio Grande Region. This impact is powerful and significant.
This study showed community colleges have tremendous value because of our ability to meet diverse educational needs, our affordability and substantial return on investment.
Prior to the pandemic, Texas community colleges had an economic output impact of $9.8 billion statewide. EPCC alone had a $192 million impact in our region, including employing more than 2,000 El Pasoans whose annual combined salaries is just under $92 million. This exemplifies EPCC’s ability to provide measurable returns for our community and students.
I’ve long said the more you learn, the more you earn. Higher education is the surest pathway to the middle class. Data from this study and countless others, consistently illustrates that those with college, including certificates and associate degrees, earn more.
In our region, individuals who have gone to college earn on average nearly $6,100 more than individuals with only a high school diploma. The annual impact of the 72,000 individuals in our region with some college is more than $440 million.
EPCC ranks fifth among two-year colleges nationwide for upward economic mobility of our graduates. This means that 37 percent of EPCC students move up two or more income brackets after graduating.
Additionally, the majority of EPCC graduates stay local. As a result, our employers have the highly skilled workforce they need which has community-wide benefits.
The jobs of the future will require some sort of degree or certificate so now is the time to enroll at EPCC. Now more than ever, EPCC is a smart choice for students to access higher education close to home with affordable tuition that is the best value in our region.
For the foreseeable future, COVID-19 will continue to significantly change our lives and alter our economic landscape. However, EPCC is ready to respond to these changes.
Whether an individual is seeking to begin their higher education journey or for individuals seeking to upskill or reskill, EPCC provides students with the support and programs they need to succeed. Not only does EPCC have a long history of being a strong choice, it remains “the best place to start and finish!”
William Serrata, Ph.D., has served as the president of El Paso Community College since 2012. He also serves as chair of the Board of Directors for the American Association of Community Colleges, the primary advocacy organization for the nation’s community colleges.