New York Profits: CUNY’s Economic Impact

The City University of New York and its 24 colleges and graduate and professional schools are a major force in supporting a strong New York economy and in preparing an educated work force for today and tomorrow.

“CUNY’s 1.2 million alumni contribute mightily to the vitality of their City and State,” said Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. “Three years after graduation, 92% are either employed, continuing their education, or both. Their success is inextricably linked to the tax base and quality of life of the community.”

CUNY degrees pay big dividends. The class of 2011 earned over $400 million more than if they only had high school diplomas. Their impact is typical of the tax-base improvements provided by 335,000 fellow alumni in the past decade and the more than 1.2 million who have earned CUNY degrees in the past 45 years. CUNY is the gateway to the middle class for the 40 percent of undergraduates whose household incomes are below $20,000.

The University helps many workers retool for new jobs through both credit and non-degree courses. CUNY’s Small Business Support Centers, located on campuses throughout the five boroughs, help hundreds of entrepreneurs launch and improve their businesses each year.

With an eye on bolstering the academic achievement of incoming freshmen, CUNY has built a strong, historic relationship with the city public school system. The University produces 40 percent of the graduates in all baccalaureate- and master’s-level teacher-training programs in New York City. CUNY sponsors 22 innovative and competitive public high schools at its campuses. Each year College Now delivers college-readiness and credit-bearing college preparatory courses to 20,000 high school students at nearly 400 high schools.

CUNY’s $4 billion annual budget generates $8 billion in economic activity, while capital projects alone account for 14,000 jobs and a fifth of all construction in New York City.

Health care, which accounted for nearly 8 percent of the gross New York State product in 2011, offers solid career choices to students. CUNY nursing programs produce 65 percent of the approximately 1,400 associate-level registered nurses graduating annually from New York City institutions. The number of CUNY graduates in allied health fields has increased in the past decade and accounts for two-thirds of newly trained workers in health and science technology.

Those allied health fields – including laboratory technologists; respiratory, occupational and physical therapists; and pharmacists and pharmacy technicians – are one of five key growth sectors identified by a task force of business leaders which Chancellor Goldstein appointed in 2012.

The other sectors are finance, insurance and accounting; higher education outside of faculty positions, including development, information technology and human resources; information technology, particularly for programmers and developers who can tackle “big data”; and media and advertising, particularly in digital postproduction visual effects and data analysis.

“To effectively meet their educational mission, universities must monitor changes in key industries, job trends and evolving practices and expectations in the workplace,” the Chancellor said in releasing the task force report, “Jobs for New York’s Future” (see

Green jobs are prime examples of how the University prepares students for 21st century work. About 17 percent of recent graduates – some 7,400 alumni – work in environmental or green tech jobs. Meanwhile, CUNY has committed to reducing its production of greenhouse gases by 30 percent by 2017. University institutes and researchers are studying solutions to environmental challenges, from climate change to coastal flooding to sustainable energy.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded its prestigious 2012 Environmental Quality Award to Sustainable CUNY for its role in supporting large-scale solar adoption.

An increasing number of academically talented high school graduates choose CUNY, at least in part drawn by an academic reputation burnished by nationally recognized Rhodes, Marshall, Truman and Goldwater scholarships – not to mention a record 16 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships and 12 Fulbright grants for graduate study abroad in the last year alone.

CUNY faculty and staff assist community organizations and government agencies, strengthening the life of the city. About 80,000 CUNY students volunteer across the five boroughs.

The University’s record of achievement has encouraged philanthropists to donate generously to an institution that they see growing ever stronger. The Invest in CUNY Campaign has raised $2.3 billion since 2004, and the University has raised the donation target to $3 billion by 2015. Significantly, private donations have increased when New York State provides necessary budget support.

About The City University of New York:
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University is comprised of 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. The University serves more than 269,000 degree credit students and 218,083 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. Nearly 3 million unique visitors and 10 million page views are served each month via, the University’s website.