Adult Education’s ROI

Adult Education’s ROI

Adult Education’s ROI is VERY POSITIVE with many years of detailed research support.

BEYOND volunteering because it is just awesome to help an interested person learn.

And BEYOND the fact that learning is just intrinsically good in and of itself.

Volunteers make major material contributions to their community.

Lack of a diploma or low literacy impacts the person, their family and their community.



Besides the Heritage Foundation’s graphic, consider these researchers findings on ADULT EDUCATION’s ROI.

In addition to the enhanced job security and other benefits enjoyed by the better educated, it is also understood that the less well-educated suffer economically and transfer some of the burden of their low-income status to society. According to Stephen Reder, Chair of the Department of Applied Linguistics at Portland State University (McLendon, Jones, Rosin, Pgs 4-5):

  • In 2006-2008, high school dropouts were more than twice as likely to be living in poverty as high school graduates; (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009).
  • Seventy-four percent of dropouts spend one or more years in poverty between the ages of 25 and 75, based on analyses of data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics between 1968 and 1992; (Rank and Hirschl, 2001).
  • Two in five youths between the ages of 16 and 24 who drop out of school receive public assistance; (Bridgeland, DiIulio & Morison, 2006).
  • On average, each high school dropout costs the U.S. economy about $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes, and productivity over his or her working lifetime, compared with a high school graduate; (Amos, 2008).
  • In “The High Cost of Low Educational Attainment,” the Council on Virginia’s Future reinforces this:Fiscal Consequences for the U.S. (Council…pg. 2)
    • The mean annual value of cash and in-kind transfers from government to adults (16-64) without a high school diploma ($4,843) exceeds the value to those with a high school diploma ($2,967) by more than 60%. The rate of payment to those without a high school diploma is more than three times the value to those adults with a Bachelor’s degree ($1,195).
    • The mean annual tax payments of 16-64 adults with a high school diploma ($8,865) are more than 70 percent higher than those of adults without a high school diploma ($5,519). The mean tax payments from adults with Bachelor’s degrees ($18,904) were three times higher than the payments made by adults without a high school diploma or GED.
    • The average high school dropout produces a lifetime net fiscal burden of $33,000 while the average high school graduate generates a ‘surplus’ of almost $268,000 more in taxes than he/she would impose in transfer costs and institutionalization costs. For those with Bachelor’s degrees the lifetime net contribution is $865,536.

    The Many Benefits of Increasing Education Levels (McLendon, Jones, Rosin, Pgs 8-9)

  • There are also indirect benefits to education that go beyond the individual and accrue to society as a whole. Educated workers have more disposable income to spend on consumer goods. Businesses that employ higher skilled workers produce more and better goods, which in turn stimulate business spending. The effect of these two spending items (consumer spending and business spending) is to increase overall income in the economy, which leads to still more spending and more income creation, and so on.)A better-educated population benefits a nation and society in myriad ways. According to a report prepared for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development by Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research and the University of Memphis the public economic benefits of adult education include:
  • Increased Tax Revenues;Greater Business Productivity;
  • Increased Consumption;
  • Increased Workforce Flexibility; and
  • Decreased Reliance on Government Financial Support.

The economic benefits that accrue to individuals include:

  • Higher Salaries and Benefits;
  • Enhanced Employment Opportunities and Stability;
  • Higher Savings Levels;
  • Improved Working Conditions; and
  • Personal/Professional Mobility.
  • Reduced Crime Rates;
  • Increased Charitable Giving and Community Service;
  • Increased Quality of Civic Life;
  • Social Cohesion/Appreciation of Diversity; and
  • Improved Ability to Adapt to and Use Technology.

Individuals gain important private social benefits, including:

Improved Health and Life Expectancy;

  • An Improved Quality of Life for Children and Dependents;
  • Better and More Informed Consumer Decision Making;
  • Higher Personal Status; and
  • More Time for Hobbies and Leisure Activities
  1. Council on Virginia’s Future (2008, August). “The High Cost of Low Educational Attainment.” Issue Insight, 2. Retrieved Jan. 25, 2012 from
  2. Levine, H. (2005, October). The Social Costs of Inadequate Education: The first annual
Teachers College Symposium on Educational Equity. Retrieved Jan. 25,2012 from
  3. McLendon, L; Jones
D. and Rosin, M. (2011, May). Return on Investment from Adult Education and Training: Measuring the Economic Impact of
A Better Educated and Trained U.S. Workforce. Retrieved Jan. 25, 2012 from


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