The New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities, an organization that supports the missions and well-being of seven senior public institutions of higher education in the state, said the member institutions annually produce some $6.1 billion in economic activity in New Jersey, generating an estimated $220 million in tax revenue for the state each year.

The data was released in a recent comprehensive economic impact study highlighting member institutions’ contributions to the state of New Jersey.

Among the report’s key findings was this: For every $1 million in state funds invested, the colleges and universities produce $16 million in economic activity. They also support roughly 36,000 jobs and $2 billion in labor income in the state. (Read the executive summary here.)

NJASCU’s seven member institutions include Kean University, New Jersey City University, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Stockton University, The College of New Jersey, Thomas Edison State University and William Paterson University.

Executive Director Gene Lepore said the study acknowledges that the regional four-year public institutions are community anchors and play a vital role in terms of employment, tax revenues, and other commercial and civic activities.

“This report thoroughly enumerates those impacts, solidifying that the state’s investment is paying off in a substantial way for our students and our residents,” he said. “We are extremely proud of the impact our seven member institutions have on New Jersey’s workforce and economy.”

To arrive at the $6.1 billion aggregate impact, the report covers four economic impact categories:

  • Annual operations ($2.16 billion);
  • Capital investments ($211 million);
  • Ancillary spending ($843 million);
  • Alumni wage premium ($2.89 billion).

The alumni wage premium is graduates’ additional earning power spent back into the local economy.

Richard Helldobler, the president of William Paterson University and chair of the NJASCU presidents, said the report also captures the broader community, social and cultural contributions of member institutions.

“Beyond our economic footprint, NJASCU institutions are offering cutting-edge programs in strategically important industries, increasing access and opportunity, and putting students on the path to good-paying jobs and upward social mobility,” he said.

“We are accomplishing this through college promise programs, dual enrollment initiatives and accelerated learning opportunities, among other strategies. And for good reason — attending a NJASCU member institution is worth an aggregate $1 million more in earning potential over the course of each graduate’s career. This is life-changing work, and we approach it with a profound sense of urgency.”

The report also emphasizes member institutions’ volunteer service and civic engagement in their local communities. In recent times, institutions have embraced their role in the COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts, becoming important partners in the public health response. NJASCU institutions continue to host labs, testing and vaccination sites, and provide additional human resources in large-scale vaccination programs.

New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Brian Bridges said the impact and influence of these schools is great.

“COVID-19 has wrought historic economic and financial uncertainty on New Jersey’s higher education sector, but our institutions have embraced the unprecedented challenges before them and triumphed,” he said. “This economic impact report is proof that our colleges and universities are engines of economic vitality that will help drive the state’s post-pandemic recovery while preparing students for lifelong success in a dynamically-shifting workforce.”

State Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-Jersey City), the chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, agreed.

“I was pleased to see that this report confirms what many of us know: NJASCU member institutions are generating a substantial impact on the state’s economy in a number of ways,” she said. “From providing jobs and supporting the construction industry through various projects, to generating student and visitor spending and building our human capital pipeline, they are truly a sound investment for the state and vital pieces of our economic well-being.

“But I also have immense pride in the work that these institutions are doing as community partners and cultural hubs. They are producing the next generation of civic-minded leaders, while also serving the vast needs of the communities they are rooted in.”

The report was produced by the Philadelphia-based economic consulting firm, Econsult Solutions. (Read it here.)