Assessing the Positive Impact of Christian Colleges

Each year, many students across the U.S. make the decision to pursue their degrees at Christian universities. Many factors play a role in this decision, including recognizing the lasting value and impact of a Christian higher education experience.

New research from the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) highlights many of the advantages of Christian education that stand to benefit the broader society. The study, “Building the Economy and the Common Good: The National Impact of Christian Higher Education in the United States,” looked at the economic, social, and community impact of Christian higher education in the United States.

The CCCU represents more than 140 Christian colleges and universities throughout the United States, including Azusa Pacific University. As APU and other colleges celebrate recent graduates and prepare to welcome the next incoming class, this report makes a powerful case for the significance of Christian education for students, communities, and the larger world.

Here are four key findings from the report about the impact of Christian colleges:

1. Expands Access to Higher Education

Society, the CCCU report noted, is better off because of Christian education. Christian colleges play a vital role in educating students who traditionally have been most at risk of limited collegiate opportunities. The report stated that half of all CCCU students come from families that make less than $50,000 a year. In addition, a third of CCCU students are first-generation college students.

APU has made educating first-generation students a priority, providing individualized support for these students through programs such as TRIO Student Support Services, which helps students navigate various aspects of college and find a sense of belonging. APU also supports potential first-generation college students in the surrounding areas through the TRIO Upward Bound program in collaboration with local schools.

“I think we have an opportunity to flip the narrative and engage our first-generation college students with a strengths lens fully acknowledging their capacity, motivation, intellection, ambition, faith, resourcefulness, and resiliency, perhaps, even in the midst of challenging conditions,” said Keith Hall, EdD, vice president for belonging/chief diversity officer at APU.

2. Introduces Students to a More Diverse Community

The CCCU report also described Christian higher education’s growing diversity over the past two decades. In 1999, 82.2 percent of undergraduates at CCCU institutions were white. By 2015, that number had fallen to 65.9 percent. Many Christian colleges see this growing diversity as a vital reflection of their faith—student populations at these schools are now reflecting the larger society.

APU is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Approximately, 65 percent of its more than 8,000 students are ethnically diverse, and APU is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and recognized as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPI).

3. Provides Significant Economic Value to the Nation

In educating students and providing them with the skills they need to succeed, Christian colleges are helping to add to the nation’s bottom line. The CCCU report pointed to $60 billion in annual economic impact from Christian colleges. This includes institutional expenditures on operations and capital investments and additional alumni earning power. In all, Christian colleges support more than 340,000 jobs and generate close to $10 billion in federal tax revenue.

4. Offers an Affordable Pathway for Higher Education that Pays Off

Christian institutions of higher education understand that people want to see a consistently high return on investment—whether that’s student investment or the governments.

The CCCU report showed that for every dollar in federal grant money, Christian institutions provided $20 in federal tax revenue. In total, the federal government provides $470 million in federal grant money to CCCU students combined with $2.46 billion in annual institutional aid.

Upon graduating, students who attended Christian universities are likely to succeed in the job market. APU made GradReports’ 2021 Best Colleges by Salary Score in California. Graduate data was used to compare alumni salaries from APU to alumni salaries from the same programs across all colleges. APU’s Salary Score is above the national average.

Christian schools serve to offer an affordable path toward a college degree while helping to shape tomorrow’s leaders.