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…Bethel has a high reputation for scholastic achievement. As long as I am able, I will continue to support my alma mater.
Jacqui-Ann Doig, R.N., ’07

New report: Kansas private colleges add $981 million annually to economy

TOPEKA – One of the myriad benefits of Kansas’ private colleges may not immediately jump to the front of most people’s minds: income generation.

Half of those colleges, including Bethel, are in south-central Kansas, and are among the 18 institutions responsible for $980 million in new income each year for the Kansas economy.

That’s the conclusion of a new study commissioned by the Topeka-based Kansas Independent Colleges Association (KICA).

Among KICA’s 18 member colleges are Bethel, along with Hesston College, in Harvey County, Tabor College in Marion County, Bethany College, Central Christian College and McPherson College in McPherson County and Sterling College in Rice County, plus Friends University and Newman University in Wichita.

Just outside that geographic area are Southwestern College (Cowley County) and Kansas Wesleyan University (Saline County).

The economic impact of the 18 colleges is sufficient to create 21,968 new jobs in Kansas every year and generate $2.8 billion in social benefits to the state through increased business output and improvements in health and public safety that accrue from the graduates of Kansas’ private colleges.

The new study, “Demonstrating the Economic Value of the Kansas Independent Colleges and Universities,” specifically analyzes the contributions to the Kansas economy by the private colleges that would not otherwise occur if the colleges did not exist.

The report’s findings show that the colleges’ impact on Kansas’ economy is nearly equivalent to Kansas hosting the NFL Super Bowl nine times each year.

“We have always known that Kansas’ independent colleges were important to the Kansas economy,” said Matt Lindsey, president of the Kansas Independent College Association and Fund. “This study demonstrates just how truly powerful the contribution is that our students, faculty and institutions make and how essential Kansas’ independent colleges are to Kansas’ future.”

Besides the 21,968 jobs that the colleges’ activities could generate, the colleges themselves employ 4,390 faculty and staff in Kansas, making the colleges collectively the seventh largest non-governmental employer based in the state.

KICA colleges receive zero institutional funds from the state budget – nearly all of the colleges’ operating budgets are privately funded.

Other highlights of the study include:

  • Kansas private colleges gave out nearly $120 million in privately funded student aid, making the colleges collectively the single largest charitable organization in Kansas.
  • There are 261,500 visitors to Kansas’ independent colleges each year on average, which generates $14.1 million. The number of visitors is nearly 90,000 more than those who come to Kansas for hunting, fishing and wildlife watching combined.

“Our policy-makers in Topeka and in cities and towns would have to recruit several major corporations every year to generate the income that our 18 colleges add just through their operations,” noted Lindsey.

“On top of that, Kansas and Kansas taxpayers benefits from a healthier, safer and more productive and engaged citizenry to the tune of $2.8 billion. That’s tough to top and suggests where our state’s real assets exist – in our private colleges.”

Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) conducted the research for the report. The full report can be found at www.kscolleges.org/economic-impact.html.

The Kansas Independent College Association, founded in 1976, is a 501(c)4 organization that works to provide support and services to the independent colleges of the state. Member institutions are Baker University, Benedictine College, Bethany College, Bethel College, Central Christian College, Donnelly College, Friends University, Hesston College, Kansas Wesleyan University, McPherson College, Manhattan Christian College, MidAmerica Nazarene University, Newman University, Ottawa University, Southwestern College, Sterling College, Tabor College and the University of St. Mary.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2014-15 Forbes.com analysis of premier colleges and universities in the United States. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.