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YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. — Private, nonprofit colleges and universities, including Young Harris College, play significant roles in the everyday lives of those living and working in college communities and are important contributors to the nation as a whole. In fact, a recent report from the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) found that America’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities are a vital economic engine to the nation, generating $591.5 billion in economic impact in 2018-2019.

The report, titled “Private, Nonprofit Higher Education: Shaping Lives and Anchoring Communities,” tells the story of the economic, social and cultural vitality that private, nonprofit colleges and universities add to communities, regions and the nation. It also demonstrates how America’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities are in a unique position to not only help but lead the acceleration of post-pandemic economic progress so desperately needed across the nation.

The study, conducted by Parker Philips, Inc., a nationally recognized consulting firm specializing in economic impact analysis, also found private, nonprofit colleges and universities like Young Harris College:

  • Directly employ more than 1.1 million people as part of day-to-day operations, and they support and sustain a combined total of 3.4 million full-time and part-time jobs.
  • Generate a total of $77.6 billion in local, state and federal tax revenue annually as a result of operations, student spending and visitor spending.
  • Account for $2.8 billion in combined charitable giving and volunteerism. It is estimated that staff, faculty and students of private, nonprofit colleges and universities give more than $747.5 million annually in charitable donations and volunteer for 86.8 million hours, valued at another $2 billion.


“It is indisputable that America is better off because of the economic opportunity, cultural enrichment and societal impacts of private, nonprofit colleges and universities,” said Barbara K. Mistick, D.M., president of NAICU.

The report found that over the course of their 40-year careers, the 584,000 bachelor’s degree recipients at private, nonprofit colleges and universities in 2019 will earn $3.1 trillion, support and sustain a cumulative total of 17.4 million jobs, and generate $382 billion in tax revenue at the local, state and federal levels.

“Private, nonprofit higher education is a partnership between students and alumni, faculty and staff, donors and trustees, neighborhoods and local businesses, to build a stronger community and a shared culture,” said Mistick. “It is clear that investing in private, nonprofit higher education pays both short- and long-term dividends for all Americans and is a lynchpin in shaping a brighter future for our nation and the world.”

An integral part of the nation’s 5,300-instituton higher education ecosystem, America’s 1,700 private, nonprofit colleges and universities:

  • Enroll nearly 21 percent of students, which represents more than 5 million students.
  • Graduate more than a million students annually.
  • Confer nearly 30 percent of undergraduate degrees and 45 percent of both master’s and doctoral degrees.
  • Account for $71.7 billion in total research expenditures, resulting in an economic impact of $193.6 billion, supporting and sustaining 907,811 jobs, and generating $21.7 billion in local, state and federal taxes.


“America is a nation of college towns,” said Mistick. “Rural, suburban and urban communities throughout the country benefit from the volunteer and philanthropic spirit embodied at many private, nonprofit colleges and universities. This spirit of giving back is rooted in the founding missions of private, nonprofit colleges and universities.”

Private, nonprofit colleges are changing outcomes for students of all incomes and backgrounds—enrolling roughly the same percentage of Pell Grant recipients (38 percent) as do public institutions (40 percent). Private institutions also enroll similar percentages of students from underrepresented groups, and by gender and age, as public institutions. Earning a bachelor’s degree boosts the median salary of an individual by 67.3 percent from a high school diploma.

“The $591.5 billion impact of private, nonprofit higher education on the U.S. economy tells only a fraction of the story regarding how this sector is transforming individual lives and communities across the country,” said Nichole Parker, president of Parker Philips. “The diversity of individual colleges and universities and their students help build community economic strength.”

The full economic impact report is available at

About the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) is the only national organization solely focused on representing private, nonprofit higher education on public policy issues in Washington, D.C. 

As one of the six major presidential higher education associations, NAICU’s institutional membership is comprised of presidents from accredited private, nonprofit colleges and universities.

NAICU’s relationships, expertise, and credibility allow it to be an effective messenger for the diverse voices of its membership. Since 1976, NAICU has represented this subset of American higher education on policy issues with the federal government. NAICU’s policy mission is focused on issues affecting student aid, tax policy and government regulation.

To help meet these goals, NAICU staff meets with policymakers; tracks campus trends; conducts research; analyzes higher education issues; publishes information; helps coordinate state-level activities; and advises members on legislative and regulatory developments with potential impact on their institutions.

About Young Harris College

Young Harris College is a private baccalaureate and master’s degree-granting institution located in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Founded in 1886 and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College educates, inspires and empowers students through an education that purposefully integrates the liberal arts and professional studies. The College has four academic divisions: Fine Arts; Humanities; Mathematics, Science and Technology; and Professional Studies. More than 1,400 students are enrolled in its residential and Early College programs. The College is an active member of the NCAA Division II and remains a fierce competitor in the prestigious Peach Belt Conference. For more information, visit