Brock Sides points out a public policy reason for states to subsidize universities (one that I thought about, but didn’t mention, in my prior post):
State support of higher education may be a rational investment by the state in its own tax base.
There is some merit in this argument, if the marginal increase in tax receipts due to residents’ higher education exceeds the amount of subsidy required—bearing in mind that, ceteris peribus, many of those residents would have gotten a collegiate education anyway. And it’s certainly an empirically-testable proposition, although one that’s difficult to examine in a single blog post.*
Anyway, as a graduate of two state universities and as someone with about a 70% chance of working for a state-supported institution next year (under the completely unreasonable assumption that I have an equal chance of being offered every single job I’ve applied for), self-interest—if nothing else—compels an end to this discussion.
In the world of “anecdotes replacing data,” I can tell you that it’s untrue in the case of my family; of the four graduates of the University of Memphis/Memphis State University in my family, only one (my mom) still resides in Tennessee; my uncle lives in California, my dad lives in Florida, and I live in Mississippi.