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New Report Explores Impact of Private, Nonprofit Colleges and Universities

Published: May 10, 2021

New Report Explores Impact of Private, Nonprofit Colleges and Universities

The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) has released a first-of-its-kind national report assessing the economic, social, and cultural impact of private, nonprofit higher education, including liberal arts colleges.

The report, Private, Nonprofit Higher Education: Shaping Lives and Anchoring Communities, finds that America’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities are a vital economic engine to the nation, generating $591.5 billion in economic impact in 2018-19. It also demonstrates how these institutions are in a unique position to not only help but lead the acceleration of post-pandemic economic progress.

The study, conducted by Parker Philips, Inc., also found private, nonprofit colleges and universities:

  • Directly employ more than 1.1 million people as part of day-to-day operations and support and sustain a combined total of 3.4 million full-time and part-time jobs.
  • Generate a total of $77.6 billion in local, state, and federal tax revenue annually as a result of operations, student spending, and visitor spending.
  • Account for $2.8 billion in combined charitable giving and volunteerism.

Focus on the Midwest

Read the Regional Summaries that include states with ACM member institutions:

Contributing Back to Communities

It is estimated that staff, faculty, and students of private, nonprofit colleges and universities give more than $747.5 million annually in charitable donations and volunteer for 86.8 million hours, valued at another $2 billion.

One example, featured in the report's Region VII Summary, came from ACM member Macalester College:

Project Pericles® at Macalester began in 2003 through a generous grant from Eugene Lang, the founder of Project Pericles®, and trustee emeritus Don Garretson and Adele Garretson. Project Pericles at Macalester is a multifaceted effort to renew civic commitments and make structural and cultural changes in order to cultivate in students the skills and motivation for a life of civic engagement. The project offers an opportunity to infuse social responsibility into all areas of the college and to serve as a building block for a long-term comprehensive approach to education that develops informed and active citizens and strengthens communities. 

Providing Education Access and Economic Opportunity

Private, nonprofit colleges are changing outcomes for students of all incomes and backgrounds – enrolling roughly the same percentage of Pell Grant recipients (38%) as do public institutions (40%).  Private institutions also enroll similar percentages of students from underrepresented groups and by gender and age as public institutions. Earning a bachelor’s degree boosts the median salary of an individual by 67.3% from a high school diploma.

“Private, nonprofit higher education is a partnership between students and alumni, faculty and staff, donors and trustees, neighborhoods and local businesses, to build a stronger community - and a shared culture,” said Barbara K. Mistick, D.M., president of NAICU. “It is clear that investing in private, nonprofit higher education pays both short- and long-term dividends for all Americans and is a lynchpin in shaping a brighter future for our nation and the world.”

The full economic impact report is available at https://naicu.edu/ImpactSurvey2021.pdf

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