December 19, 2023

Cowley College Unveils Study on Local & Regional Economic Impact

infographic with text press release

Arkansas City, KAN., (December 19, 2023) - Lightcast, a company with more than 20 years of experience working with higher education institutions, recently completed an Economic Impact Study to demonstrate Cowley College's economic value to the local economy.

The Economic Impact Analysis, reflecting fiscal year 2021-22, measured how Cowley College affects the local economy. An Investment Analysis, which is a comparison of the costs and benefits further demonstrates the return on investment.

In addition to helping students become more employable and achieve their potential, Cowley College creates value in many ways. By attracting students, Cowley College adds new dollars and opportunities for its service region, in addition to providing students with the education, training, and skills they need.

During the study period, Cowley College had 3,619 credit students, 1,710 non-credit students, and 373 full and part-time employees. Graduates with an associate degree from Cowley College witness an increase of $14,000 annual earnings boost compared to Kansans with just a high school diploma. The cumulative value of higher future earnings for FY 2021-22 students alone amounts to $152.8 million.

The education and training Cowley College provides for regional residents has the greatest impact. In FY 2021-22, Cowley College alumni generated $179.4 million in added income for the regional economy, which is equivalent to supporting 2,582 jobs.

infographic of total impact

Throughout the analysis year, Cowley College injected $203.5 million into the Cowley College regional service area economy, including operations spending, student expenditure, and alumni impact. The $203.5 million impact supported 3,071 regional jobs, using the jobs-to-sales ratios specific to each industry in the region.

Cowley College's annual payroll and other spending generates $20.3 million in added income, while the daily spending of Cowley College students attracted to or retained in the region generates $3.8 million.

For every $1 invested, Cowley College students reap $10.70 in lifetime earnings. Taxpayers, too, witness a significant return, gaining $2.20 in added tax revenue and public sector savings, while society benefits $8 in added income and social savings.

Cowley College generates more in tax revenue than it receives. These benefits to taxpayers consist primarily of taxes that the state and local government will collect from the added revenue created in the state. As Cowley College students earn more, they will make higher tax payments, such as property taxes, throughout their working lives. Students’ employers will also make higher tax payments as they increase their output and purchases of goods and services. By the end of the FY 2021-22 students’ working lives, the state and local government will have collected a present value of $35.3 million in added taxes.

This extensive study draws from diverse sources, blending data from Cowley College's FY 2021-22 academic and financial reports, the Kansas Board of Regents, alongside industry and employment statistics from esteemed sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, all anchored by Lightcast’s Multi-Regional Social Accounting Matrix model.

The results of the analysis demonstrate that Cowley College is a strong investment for all three major stakeholder groups—students, taxpayers, and society. As shown, students receive a great return for their investments in education from Cowley College. At the same time, taxpayers’ investment in Cowley College returns more to government budgets than it costs and creates a wide range of social benefits throughout Kansas.

Go to for the complete executive summary conducted by Lightcast.