CSU System generates talent, jobs, and revenue for Colorado

March 15, 2021

HOW DO THE CSU SYSTEM and its campuses contribute to the Colorado economy?

The three Colorado State University System campuses – and the out-of-state students they attract – fuel nearly 23,000 Colorado jobs and more than $237.74 million in state income and sales tax revenue annually.

In a first-time economic impact study, researchers quantified the CSU System’s significance to the Colorado economy in terms of jobs, research, and the contributions of more than 112,250 alumni now working in Colorado. Highlights and a full report are available here.

Illustration with a CSU System sign with a dollar sign shadow.
Illustration by Dave Cutler

Nearly one in 25 Colorado workers has a degree from a CSU System campus. About 3 percent of the state’s total collections can be attributed to CSU graduates.

Among the report’s key findings: The CSU System is an important factor in Colorado’s workforce development and talent retention. About 50 percent of the students who moved to Colorado to attend a CSU campus since 2005 have stayed here after graduating. And 86 percent of Colorado residents who attended CSU institutions are still in the state.

Nearly one in 25 Colorado workers has a degree from a CSU System campus, and their alumni income translates into more than $209 million in state income tax revenue and $128 million in sales, use, and excise tax revenue each year. In other words, about 3 percent of the state’s total collections can be attributed to CSU graduates.

The three CSU System campuses together enroll more than 60,000 new and returning students each year, and the System has nearly 300,000 living alumni worldwide. Under the System umbrella are: the flagship research university in Fort Collins, a leading land-grant institution; CSU Pueblo, a regionally focused Hispanic-Serving Institution; and CSU Global, the nation’s first fully online public university with accredited degree programs.

“Clearly, CSU plays a critical role in our state’s future productivity and ability to remain an innovation hub in economically important industries,” CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank said. “We’re not manufacturing a product; we’re educating people who contribute to society in all the ways educated people do – as teachers, scientists, doctors and nurses, business leaders, manufacturers, technologists, artists, engineers, and the countless other roles that are typically filled by people with higher education.”

The study was conducted by CSU Fort Collins faculty, 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 CSU System’s economic impact is felt statewide by bringing in money from federal agencies, out-of-state students, and by transferring knowledge to businesses and industries across Colorado,” the authors wrote in the report.