Economic study

Economic study of CSU system shows impact on talent retention, jobs and revenue

The three campuses of the Colorado State University System – and the international students they attract – support nearly 23,000 Colorado jobs and more than $237.74 million in state and tax revenue annuals.

In its first-ever system-wide economic impact study, a team of economists quantified the unique contributions of the CSU system to Colorado’s economy in terms of jobs, research, and the contributions of more than 112 250 living alumni of the system currently working in Colorado. Highlights and a full report are available online at:

Among the report’s key findings: The CSU system is a significant factor in retaining talent in Colorado’s workforce. About 50% of students who have moved to Colorado to attend a CSU campus since 2005 have remained there after graduation. And 86% of Colorado residents who attended CSU institutions are still in the state. Nearly one in 25 Colorado workers graduates from a CSU system campus, and their earnings translate to more than $209 million in state tax revenue and $128 million in tax revenue, use and excise. In other words, about 3% of the state’s total collections can be attributed to CSU graduates.

The three campuses of the CSU system – the flagship research university in Fort Collins; CSU Pueblo, an institution serving regional Hispanics; and the fully online CSU Global – together enroll more than 60,000 new and returning students each year. The CSU system has nearly 300,000 living alumni worldwide.

“Clearly, CSU plays a vital role in our state’s future productivity and its ability to remain a hub of innovation in economically important industries,” said CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank. “We don’t make a product; we educate people who contribute to society in all the ways educated people do – such as teachers, scientists, doctors and nurses, business leaders, manufacturers, technologists, artists, engineers and the countless other roles that are usually filled by people with a higher level of education.”

The study was conducted by CSU Fort Collins faculty Drs. Rebecca Hill of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Harvey Cutler and Martin Shields of Economics. They were supported by graduate research assistants Lauren Mangus and Kevin Crofton.

“The economic impact of the CSU system is felt statewide by bringing in money from federal agencies, foreign students, and transferring knowledge to Colorado businesses and industries,” the authors wrote in The report. “The economic impact of the CSU system in Fort Collins and Pueblo includes factors considered in the statewide impact, as well as money injected into the region by the state government and students from across the state.”

Other highlights from the report include:

  • 112,250 CSU system alumni working in the state earned about $7.57 billion from their jobs in 2019, about $2.9 billion more than they might have expected. they had only finished high school.
  • The overall economic impact of the CSU system statewide translates to approximately 22,785 jobs in Colorado and $237.74 million in state income (individual and corporate) and revenue from sales tax that the state would not otherwise have had.
  • CSU Fort Collins’ massive mobilization around COVID-19 research has ranked it in the top 10 universities in the world working on research and cures related to the virus. Last year, the university’s technology and intellectual property licensing office reported 23 COVID-related inventions.
  • In total, the business benefits and regional productivity increases from UHC Fort Collins translate to 645 additional jobs and $25.3 million in household income for the Larimer County economy.

The study noted data from the American Community Survey showing that the average annual earnings of employed Coloradans with four-year degrees was about $70,000, compared to $36,000 for those with a four-year degree. ‘secondary studies. College-educated workers are also less likely to be unemployed, less likely to have had their jobs affected by the recession, less likely to access government assistance programs, and more likely to have sponsored health insurance. by the employer.

Impact on local economies

The study highlighted the tremendous impact of CSU campuses in Fort Collins and Pueblo on their local economies.

Fort Collins

  • The Fort Collins area receives more than $36 million in local sales and uses tax revenue from economic activity related to CSU operations, student spending, start-ups and business assistance related to universities. The total direct and indirect impacts on employment in the city are estimated at over 17,300 jobs, out of a total of 84,000 jobs in the city.
  • CSU Fort Collins students who are not native to the city spend approximately $319.1 million annually in the community, which supports 2,700 jobs and $7.9 million in local sales and uses tax revenue, either directly or through multiplier effects. This represents approximately 5% of Fort Collins’ sales and use tax revenue.
  • CSU Fort Collins is an innovation incubator. In 2020, funded research topped $400 million for the first time ever. CSU Fort Collins-related start-ups and knowledge spillovers are generating significant additional local economic activity, translating into 645 additional jobs and $25.3 million in household income.


  • CSU Pueblo enrolls more than 3,700 students, mostly undergraduates, and many first-generation students. With 33% of its students identifying as Hispanic, CSU Pueblo is federally designated as a Hispanic-serving institution. Looking back over 75 years, the institution has graduated more than 30,000 students, with nearly 20,000 alumni living in Colorado.
  • The City of Pueblo receives approximately $2.4 million in local sales and use tax revenue from economic activity related to CSU Pueblo operations and student spending. The total direct and indirect employment impacts in the city are estimated at nearly 1,500, out of approximately 43,500 total jobs in Pueblo.
  • CSU Pueblo directly employs 712 workers, with a payroll of $42.5 million. After taking into account the multiplier impacts, approximately 1,230 jobs are supported in the community. Related economic activity provides the city with approximately $1.68 million in local sales and use tax revenue.
  • In Pueblo, student spending for the 2019-2020 academic year is estimated at $61.43 million (excluding tuition). Of this amount, approximately $30.53 million comes from students who otherwise would not have contributed to the local economy in 2019-20. That means “out of town” student spending supports 261 jobs and $712,200 in local sales and uses tax revenue for Pueblo.


  • CSU Global, an entirely online campus, employs 119 people throughout Colorado, including 66 at its Aurora headquarters. The university has been a game-changer for the state by helping to create innovative and non-traditional pathways for people to earn and earn degrees and certificates. Even as a globally accessible online university, 40% of CSU Global’s students are in Coloradoworking adults whose global credentials will position them and their Colorado employers for financial gain. Likewise, thousands of Global alumni are in-state residents.
  • Demand for CSU Global programs skyrocketed: the university had 208 students when its classes began; a dozen years later, it has awarded more than 21,000 degrees and about 20,000 students are currently enrolled. Forty percent of CSU Global graduates live in Colorado.
  • CSU Global offers more than 50 bachelor’s and master’s certificates and programs, with dozens of optional specializations. The university accomplished all of this without any state funding, while repaying a start-up loan earlier and making it into the Top 10 “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs” and “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for veterans” US news and world report.

Colorado taxpayers are investing in state colleges and universities, Frank said. This report bears witness to the value that these institutions restore.

“Universities contribute to the economy as employers and by spending money to keep our operations running, as well as by training skilled workers,” Frank said. “We also attract people from out of the state of Colorado who spend their money here, whether as students, conference attendees, or visiting parents and family members. Thousands of jobs across Colorado that are not directly tied to a college or university still depend on these institutions to survive.

Public colleges and universities can be islands of stability and sustainable jobs for communities across the state, he added. “We learned from the Great Recession that communities that house a college or university rebounded faster — and that’s a strength for all of Colorado, which has built a geographically diverse higher education system designed to serve all corners of the state.”