Graduates of two- and four-year colleges contribute tens of thousands of dollars more to local economies over their lifetimes than the high school graduates, according to an economic brief from Brookings Institution.

The average person with a bachelor’s degree spends $278,000 more in the local economy than the average high school grad. Those with associate degrees contribute

$81,000 more on average.

Meanwhile, 68 percent of community college graduates remain in the same area as their schools after graduating, while only 42 percent of four-year college grads do.

Jonathan Rothwell, a fellow at Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program, argues that college graduates’ economic impact gives state and local governments, and taxpayers, “a very strong incentive to boost college attendance and completion.”

One promising way to accomplish that, Rothwell says, is risk-sharing of federal student loans. Under this concept, colleges could be forced to pay back a portion of federal loans to students who default on them.

Chronically poor performing colleges would be penalized, offsetting some of the risk to taxpayers.