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

The impact of Christian higher education goes far beyond the professional and personal development of its students to very real financial benefits for American society, according to a new study by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

CCCU schools have a national economic impact of $60 billion each year, or $166 million per day, the study states. The report, released March 26, 2018, highlights the economic value of the 142 CCCU members in the United States and the 16 in California, including Fresno Pacific University, the only accredited Christian university founded in the Central Valley.

The study further illustrates how FPU increases the well-being of its region, said Joseph Jones, Ph.D., president of the university. “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,” he said. “We look forward to partnering with others who are also committed.”

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

Comparing FPU to the rest of the CCCU reveals:

  • 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 FPU 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 FPU 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 FPU students in general.

Fresno Pacific University, which includes Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, educates more than 4,000 students at campuses in Southeast Fresno, North Fresno, Merced, Visalia and Bakersfield as well as online. The university has the highest graduation rate in the Valley and is a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

In all, the study states 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 earn 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 CCCU findings mirror a similar study of California secular and religious private colleges and universities by the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU). These 79 colleges and universities, which also includes 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 (aaicu.edu).

Having a positive economic impact works hand-in-glove with the larger goals of Christian higher education, Jones said. “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.”

See the full CCCU report at cccu.org/economic-impact/