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Study Shows Independent Colleges and Universities Add $11.4 Billion to Tennessee Economy


Nashville, TN - Tennessee would be poorer without its 34 private, non-profit colleges and universities – more than $11.4 billion poorer, according to a recent economic impact study.

The Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA) recently commissioned this third periodic study, with a hundred percent of the 34 TICUA member institutions participating.  Looking at the fiscal year 2012-2013, the study revealed that the State’s private colleges and universities contributed more than $11.4 billion to the Tennessee economy as a result of their presence.

The study focused on three major areas of the institutions’ economic impact: (1) business volume in the State generated by institutional expenditures ($5.8 billion); (2) full-time-equivalent jobs created and sustained in Tennessee by the colleges and universities’ presence (411,865 jobs, including the institutions’ own 37,223 jobs); and (3) individual income generated in the State by institutional expenditures ($5.6-$6.4 billion).

The study determined that approximately 77 % of the independent college and university expenditures during 2012-13 were made within the State’s borders.

The analysis was based on the Caffrey economic impact model, which was developed in 1968 and is still considered a standard by the American Council on Education. The Caffrey model is considered to be more sophisticated and more reliable than some other models that simply apply a single economic impact multiplier.

Also worth noting is what the study does not include. It does not consider the intrinsic value that results from the improved productivity and quality of life achieved through increased levels of education, nor does it include the indirect impact of having educated citizens and leaders available for employment by State businesses and organizations.

TICUA President Claude O. Pressnell, Jr. said, “Private colleges across the State are proud to play such an important role in developing a strong Tennessee economy. The institutions educate individuals for the workforce, create jobs in their communities, and the money they and their employees spend boosts local economic growth.” 

TICUA member institutions enroll nearly 80,000 students annually and confer nearly 19,000 degrees per year. This study clearly documents the significant force that the state’s private colleges and universities continue to have in the economic vitality of Tennessee. The study can be found on the TICUA website: http://www.ticua.org/research/sm_files/Final%20Text%20PLM.pdf