What’s Christian higher education worth? How about $60 billion

What’s Christian higher education worth? How about $60 billion

The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) issued an economic study of its 142 members in the United States, which includes Fresno Pacific University. All these institutions broaden the educational options for students and create environments where they can freely integrate their Christian faith with cognitive development. Many of those institutions, like FPU, do not require students to be Christians, but do encourage the integration of faith and knowledge in preparation for service to society and their communities.

The report highlights the economic value of these institutions throughout the country, and particularly addresses the 16 colleges/universities in California. FPU is the only university of this nature in the Central Valley, providing educational options for traditional, non-traditional and graduate students. The university has the highest degree completion rate in the Valley and is a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

The CCCU study, released March 26, shows that its members have a national economic impact of $60 billion each year. That’s $166 million per day. This study mirrors a similar study of private colleges and universities in California by the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU). These 79 colleges and universities, including FPU, employ 88,800 Californians and provide a $26 billion+ economic contribution to the state. They produce 22 percent of the bachelor’s degrees, 52 percent of the master’s degrees and 54 percent of the doctoral degrees in California (AICCU Fact book: aaicu.org).

Here are a few key findings of the CCCU study:

  • For every $1 in federal grant money a student receives, CCCU institutions provide $5 in aid to that student through grants and schol­arships.
  • The student loan default rate for graduates from CCCU institutions (6.3 percent) is nearly half the national average (11.5 percent).
  • Although tax exempt, CCCU institutions generate $9.7 billion in federal tax revenue each year. For every $1 in federal grant money a student receives, CCCU institutions generate more than $20 in federal tax revenue.
  • One in three CCCU students are first-generation college students.
  • 50 percent of CCCU students come from families that make less than $50,000 per year.
  • While approximately one in four college students across the country volunteer, more than one in three CCCU students participate in community service, contributing about 4 million hours per year.

Comparing FPU to these institutions and other independent colleges reveals the following:

  • 49 percent of FPU students are the first in their families to attend college or university, rather than one in three, and these students graduate at the same rate as our students in general.
  • 56 percent of FPU students come from families who earn $40,000 or less annually, rather than 50 percent of students coming from families who earn less than $50,000.
  • FPU’s student default rate is 4.4 percent, below the CCCU average of 6.3 percent.
  • All our traditional undergraduate students perform community service.
  • In addition, 44 percent of FPU students identify themselves as Latino/a. These students also graduate at the same rate as our students in general.

In all, the 16 CCCU institutions in California spend $1.8 billion annually on operations and capital investments, enroll over 60,000 students, employ more than 10,000 people, support more than 45,000 other jobs, attract more than $500 million in ancillary student spending and generate $370 million in state tax revenues. Their more than 220,000 alumni earning an extra $2.8 billion a year due to the education they received. Nationwide, CCCU schools educate 445,000 students, employ 72,000 faculty and staff and serve 3.5 million alumni around the world.

The return on investment in institutions like Fresno Pacific University is not just realized in dollars and cents. Our success is not solely based on the economic contributions we make to the region. Our success is defined by the ways in which we produce effective graduates. Our spiritual and ethical commitment to the Central Valley is only a reflection of our commitment to Christ. We have adopted the mantra to Engage the Cultures and Serve the Cities in the Valley. We are privileged to join with others to serve in the economic wellbeing of our region and this state. We look forward to partnering with others who are also committed.

For the full report, visit cccu.org/economic-impact/.

Joseph Jones, Ph.D.

Joseph Jones, Ph.D.

University President