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Study: Higher Education Has $63.5 Billion Impact On N.C. Economy

The 'Old Well' UNC-Chapel HIll
Caroline Culler

The state’s higher education institutions had a $63.5 billion impact on the state’s economy in the 2012-13 fiscal year, according to a new study. 

Higher education leaders say the report shows that the North Carolina’s institutions of higher education are providing a strong return on investment for students and taxpayers.

It notes that taxpayers invested $4.3 billion to support higher education in 2012-13, and received a $17 billion return.

The report provides a first-time look at the economic impact of all higher education institutions, including community colleges, the UNC system and independent universities and colleges.

UNC system president Tom Ross says the three sectors are working more closely together than ever before “to leverage our respective strengths and to pool our sacred and scarce resources.”

Some key facts from the study:

·         The total economic impact of higher education institutions in FY 2012-13 is equivalent to 14.6 percent of the total Gross State Product of North Carolina, and equivalent to creating more than a million new jobs.

·         North Carolina’s independent colleges and universities created $14.2 billion in added state income; the community college system created  $21.5 billion; the UNC system created $27.9 billion.

·         NC higher education institutions created a total of 3,744 inventions, patent applicants and licenses  between 2009-2013.

·         Students in higher education institutions during FY 2012-13 will receive a present value of $37.9 billion in estimated increased earnings over their working lives; this translates to a return of $2.70 for every $1 the student invested in higher education.  That’s a return of 12.4 percent.

The study by Economic Modeling Specialist International was funded with private funds by community colleges, the UNC system, foundations and independent universities and colleges. 

Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.
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