Investing in Success
Findings From a Cost–Benefit Analysis of Massachusetts Community Colleges
Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation
Building on 2021 MassINC research, this new report provides a rigorous and comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of Massachusetts community colleges. The findings document large returns to students who graduate with certificates or degrees. While taxpayers also realize substantial fiscal benefits on a per-degree basis, low graduation rates mean returns on state expenditure are minimal in the aggregate and under-resourcing community colleges costs the state millions annually. This suggests evidence-based initiatives that increase completion rates can generate a large return on investment for the commonwealth.
New longitudinal data enabled this research. The findings provide a timely contribution to the growing public policy debate around how Massachusetts can ensure that community colleges offer pathways to economic opportunity. They also demonstrate the valuable insight these rich new datasets can unlock for policymakers.
This research was made possible by the generous financial support of The Boston Foundation and the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation.