As Allegany College of Maryland celebrates its 60th academic year, its 21,587 graduates and tens of thousands of community members whose lives it has touched through credit and continuing education classes share one commonality: A belief in a better future. They know that post-secondary education correlates to higher wages: the average associate degree graduate from ACM will see an increase in earnings of $8,300 each year compared to someone with a high school diploma or equivalent working in Maryland.
For every dollar spent on their education, students gain $3.70 in lifetime earnings, society gains $2.70 in added state revenue and social savings, and taxpayers gain $13.6 million in added tax revenue and public sector savings. On average, our students realize a 22.9 percent return on their investment — a 13 percent higher ROI than the stock market’s 30-year average return.
The same Economic Impact Analysis report found that Allegany College of Maryland added $106.7 million in income to its service area economy or approximately 2.5% of the region’s total gross regional product in fiscal year 2019. Expressed in terms of jobs, its impact supported 1,844 jobs and the activities of ACM and its students support one out of every 30 jobs in our service area. ACM graduates frequently remain in our area. The accumulated impact of former students currently employed in the ACM Service Area workforce amounted to $77.3 million in added income for our service area’s economy, which is equivalent to supporting 1,169 jobs. Simply stated, Allegany College of Maryland remains a powerful and critical economic generator.
But dollars and cents aside, Allegany College of Maryland is first and foremost a valuable community of educators committed to our students and to transforming lives. What students gain through their investment in their education, be it through credit courses, continuing education classes, or workforce training, is immeasurable — an exposure to new ideas and ways of viewing the world, critical thinking skills, opportunities to learn from and work with others, participation in civic and community activities, and deeply held friendships and professional relationships. They gain wisdom and knowledge: education’s true return on investment.
These principles were part of the college’s founding. When Allegany Community College was formally dedicated on Nov. 12, 1961, an anniversary we mark this week, Rabbi Max Selinger prayed that “Wisdom shall enter into their heart and knowledge shall be pleasant in their soul.” Also during his prayer of dedication, he asked that blessings rest “upon those who administer, who teach, and who learn.” These words, inscribed in our College Center, hold special resonance with our institution. With pride in our students, employees and our six decades of serving our region and our state, those blessings remain.
My sincere appreciation to our entire ACM family of students, alumni, partners, faculty and staff, advocates, and supporters. Thank you for making Allegany College of Maryland your college of choice and for believing, as I do, that everyone deserves affordable access to valuable, high-quality post-secondary education of all types.
Cynthia Bambara is president of Allegany College of Maryland.