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Posted on: Monday - Feb 8, 2016

A new report by the Center for Economic Research in Tennessee (CERT) showcases the economic benefits of higher education to communities across the state as well as the additional earning and revenues upon the Drive to 55 achievement. The conclusion of the report states that on average, individuals will earn more with every type of postsecondary degree than those with only a high school degree.

Drive to 55 was launched in 2013 and its goal is to make certain that 55 percent of our population has a degree or certificate by 2025. Gov. Bill Haslam introduced the Drive to 55 because he knew that a better educated, highly skilled workforce will have a result of high quality jobs, growth in personal income and improvement in the quality of life for Tennesseans.

With the help of the Drive to 55 program, Tennessee is now the leading state in the nation for high school seniors completing the Free Application for Federal Students Aid (FAFSA). Out of all of the new FAFSA applications submitted in the United States in 2015, 40 percent of them came from Tennessee. Tennessee has also had a 10.1 percent increase of first-time freshman enrollment at public institutions between Fall 2014 and Fall 2015.

Tennessee has had a growth of people with postsecondary degrees since the launch of Drive to 55. An estimated 1,337,581 Tennesseans age 25-62 have a postsecondary certificate or associate’s, bachelor’s, graduate or professional degree, which represents 38.7 percent of the working age population. This number is estimated to grow exponentially for the next 10 years. With the goal of 55 percent postsecondary attainment, it is estimated that 528,630 additional certificates or degree holders will be a part of the Tennessee workforce 2025.

There will also be a growth in the incomes for those entering the workforce by 2025. If you compare the incomes of someone with a degree or certificate to someone who does not have one, moving our population to meet our 55 percent goal would mean $9 billion in additional annual income for Tennesseans.

Its programs like Drive to 55 that make these achievements possible for the state of Tennessee. It is exciting to see such growth in Tennessee education and workforce. We are close to reaching our goal of having 55 percent of our population having a degree or certificate by the year 2025. Right now, we are at 37 percent. If the state of Tennessee keeps growing at this rate, we are sure to meet and exceed our goal.

Read the full CERT report.

10.1%

INCREASE FOR FIRST-TIME FRESHMAN ENROLLMENT AT TENNESSEE PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS BETWEEN FALL 2014 AND FALL 2015

$746.4

MILLION IN ADDITIONAL STATE AND LOCAL TAX REVENUES IF TENNESSEE REACHES 55% ATTAINMENT BY 2025