Reality Check: University grads give much more than they receive

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Recently, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report comparing what students pay for their degrees with the public cost of providing undergraduate education in British Columbia. It found that university graduates, as a group, pay out considerably more in fees and taxes than the total cost of their education.
A four-year undergraduate degree costs the government and students a bit more than $50,000 in BC. Women with an undergraduate degree put $106,000 more back into the public purse over the course of their working life than those with only a high school diploma through taxes paid on higher earnings. Men contribute $156,000 more than peers for whom high school is their highest educational attainment.
The report notes that some university graduates earn less than the average high school graduate. It argues that progressive taxation is sensitive to individual differences in career path and income, and spreads the costs and contributions across all graduates.
Ontario students pay more and the Ontario government contributes less towards their education than students in other provinces. It is therefore likely that they, too, more than make up for the cost of their degrees through increased contributions to public finances. This calls into question policies that seek to shift the cost of education onto students through higher tuition fees.

This article originally appeared in the OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week in your inbox, please subscribe.

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