The Economic Impact of Independent Higher Education in New York

Private, not-for-profit colleges and universities contribute an estimated $97.6 billion to New York's economy, based on 2019 data. This economic impact grew by 10 percent from 2017 to 2019. 

Economic Impact Chart

How Economic Impact is Calculated

The economic impact of Independent Sector higher education in New York has three main components: 

  • Institutional Impact: Estimated at $73.11 billion in 2019, this includes spending on research, construction, instruction, salaries, and spillover spending. 
  • Student and Visitor Impact: Estimated at nearly $5 billion in 2019, this includes spending by students at local restaurants and retailers as well as money spent by campus visitors attending campus events like commencement, conferences, and sporting events. 
  • Academic Medical Center Impact: Estimated at $19.55 billion in 2017, this includes patient revenue and the estimated benefits of resident physicians and fellows at the nine Independent Sector Academic Medical Centers in New York. Note that this data was not updated in 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

economic impact pie chart.jpg

CICU has worked with the Rochester-based Center for Governmental Research (CGR) to produce biennial economic impact reports since 2005. 

Creating Jobs

Private colleges across New York employed 192,993 individuals on their campuses in 2019. The overall employment impact of Independent Sector higher education, including construction and spillover jobs, was 432,595 in 2019, a 4 percent increase from 2017. 

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been very costly to New York's private colleges. We estimate that from March 2020 projected through June 2021, the Independent Sector experienced $3.9 billion in pandemic-related losses and increased costs. This includes tuition losses, refunds for room and board, new pandemic-related expenses like PPE and testing, and lost auxiliary revenue. 

Federal relief to these institutions totaled $882 million across three stimulus packages passed in 2020 and 2021. This brought the sector's net losses to $3.1 billion. 


Visit our Quick Facts page for additional data.

Contact Keith Cushing ( or Emily Morgese ( for additional information.