Independent Colleges and Universities Generate $79.6 Billion in Economic Activity for New York State

CICU News Date: 

Albany, NY
– Private, not-for-profit colleges and universities collectively generated $79.6 billion in economic activity for New York state in 2015, an increase of $5.3 billion since 2013. The finding is reported in the most recent biennial economic impact analysis released today by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) in New York and conducted by the Center for Governmental Research (CGR).

Private, not-for-profit colleges and universities continue to be a strong economic force in New York, having contributed $79.6 billion to the state’s economy in 2015. This significant total represents the sum of three primary areas of spending – institutional impact, academic medical centers and student and visitor spending. Institutional impact represents research, construction, instruction, salaries and spillover spending; academic medical centers include patient revenue, the estimated benefits of residents and fellows and other indirect and induced efforts of the center; and students and visitors spending has a significant impact on discretionary spending at restaurants, retailers and lodging facilities.

There are more than 100 private, not-for-profit colleges and universities in New York state collectively educating more than 491,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Thirty-nine percent of students enrolled in college in New York state attend a private, not-for-profit institution, an 11 percent increase since 2003. The Independent Sector confers 51 percent of bachelor’s degrees and 72 percent of master’s degrees, proving the private colleges and universities are choice destinations for students.

“During a period when national higher education enrollment declined two percent, New York’s independent colleges and universities kept total enrollment stable, demonstrating the strength of New York higher education where it counts—in the market place,” said CGR’s chief economist, Kent Gardner, who led the study. “The entire sector employs about 200,000 directly—both on campus and through construction activity—plus slightly more in spillover employment. Higher education remains a mainstay of the state’s economy.”

The study further breaks down the statewide financial impact into ten regions, each aligning with the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) of New York state:

Capital District - $4.3 billion

Central New York - $3.2 billion

Finger Lakes - $5.5 billion

Long Island - $3.4 billion

Mid-Hudson - $4.8 billion

Mohawk Valley - $686 million

New York City - $50 billion

North Country - $676 million

Southern Tier - $5.3 billion

Western New York - $1.4 billion

The report also highlights the total payroll impact of the Independent Sector, which exceeds $28 billion for 406,300 direct, indirect and induced jobs, a $1.6 billion increase over the 2013 study. As private employers, these institutions’ employees pay more than $2 billion in state taxes.

“Private, not-for-profit colleges and universities are one of New York’s strongest economic engines and are a strong and committed partner of the state,” said Laura L. Anglin, CICU’s president.

For complete details of this report, including regional impact, please visit

About The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York
Founded in 1956, The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) in New York represents the chief executives of New York's 100+ independent (private, not-for-profit) colleges and universities on issues of public policy. Member colleges compose the largest private sector of higher education in the world and confer most of the bachelor’s degrees (51%), master’s degrees (72%), and doctoral and first-professional degrees (79%) earned in New York state.