Biola generates $1.2 billion in economic activity nationwide each year, drives $204 million in federal tax revenue and supports 6,300 jobs across the United States — all according to a recent independent study on Biola’s economic and social impact. In a national climate that has increasingly questioned the value of Christian higher education, the report captures some of the university’s most significant tangible contributions to the common good — not just in the surrounding community of La Mirada, but throughout the region, the state of California and the nation.
“The findings of this report make it clear: Biola plays a vital role in serving the common good of our nation,” said Lee Wilhite, vice president of enrollment, marketing and communications. “The scholarship and grant money invested in Biola pays enormous dividends across this country — both through the significant, tangible economic activity we generate, but also through the positive social impact of alumni who are living out their Christian faith in their careers and callings."
To conduct the study, Biola commissioned Econsult Solutions, Inc. (“ESI”), an economic consulting firm that has completed similar studies for Ivy League institutions, research universities and community colleges. The full report provides a comprehensive picture of Biola’s economic impact, which includes the economic contributions that the university and its students, employees and alumni create through activities such as retail commerce, events, travel, housing and construction.
Based on ESI’s report, Biola generates an overall economic impact of $1.2 billion nationwide, including $723 million in California and $196 million in La Mirada. That impact is spread across several major categories:
• The greatest share of economic impact comes from alumni wage premiums — the increased earning potential that comes with a university degree. Nationwide, Biola alumni generate an estimated $727 million in economic output over and above what they would earn without having received a Biola education. About $336 million of this impact is made in California, and about $3 million is made in La Mirada alone.
• Biola’s annual operations, which includes employee compensation, purchase of goods and other expenses, generates $315 million nationwide, including $276 million in California and $147 million in La Mirada.
• In terms of capital investments, which includes construction, major renovations and largescale maintenance, Biola generates $86 million of impact nationwide, including $65 million in California and $33 million in La Mirada. This level of impact is expected to continue in coming years, as Biola projects the completion of a $62 million project for the newly launched School of Cinema and Media Arts in 2021.
• Ancillary spending — what students and visitors spend on things like food, travel, retail and housing — totals $57 million within the United States, $46 million within California and $14 million within La Mirada.
Through each of these areas, Biola’s economic activity supports 6,300 jobs nationwide, including 4,100 jobs in California and 1,250 in La Mirada. Biola is also the largest single employer in La Mirada, employing twice as many people as any other employer in the city.
On top of the positive financial impact Biola has on its community and beyond, the study also details the immense impact Biola alumni and students have on society. The more than 52,000 alumni living around the world serve in a wide range of careers and ministries. Biola graduates have a strong record of securing good jobs and being admitted to leading graduate programs. At the same time, a good share of graduates intentionally pursue careers where the economic impact may not be as high, but the social impact is significant, such as careers in church ministry, teaching or the social and human services sector.
As a Christian university, Biola cultivates a biblical worldview, developing compassion, selflessness and discipline in its students. Students are informed, involved and compassionately responsive to the needs of the community and to social injustice. One of the ways Biola gives to the community is by partnering with over 50 school districts in Greater Los Angeles and placing approximately 300 students in schools each week as student-teachers and volunteer tutors. Biola is also a key community service partner with the city of La Mirada, offering services through the “Ask a Nurse” program and Helping Hands, a program that provides community service to elderly, low-income and disabled residents. Nursing students actively serve and gain experience in a variety of local facilities and hospitals.
Beyond these, Biola students are regularly engaged in service trips, internships and volunteer positions through nonprofits and ministries such as Cru, Compassion International, Joni and Friends, Union Rescue Mission and many others.
“The work we do to equip students in mind and character brings tremendous benefits to the world around us, and it’s encouraging to see this independent study capture some of that social, spiritual and economic impact,” Biola President Barry H. Corey said. “As we continue to live out our vision for this community — to abide in truth, abound in grace and to be compelled by Christ’s love to be a relevant and redemptive voice in a changing world — I’m truly excited about the ways that God will continue to use this university in the years ahead.”
The Common Good as a Common Cause
As encouraging as the findings of the Biola report are, they capture just a portion of the overall impact of Christian higher education in the United States. The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU), an association of Christian higher education institutions of which Biola University is a member, released a similar report earlier this year assessing the economic impact of Christian higher education nationwide. The report found that Christian institutions generate $60 billion in economic activity in the U.S. each year — equivalent to $166 million per day. This economic activity generates $9.7 billion in federal tax revenue and 340,000 jobs, resulting in $17.8 billion in salary and benefits.
Both these studies together help provide a broader and more comprehensive view on the value of Christian higher education, not just in the strong return on investment for students, the community and society, but as exemplified in the lives and activities of students and alumni, in the development of Christ-centered citizens who desire to love and serve the world.
How the Report Was Conducted
ESI’s report followed a gross economic impact methodology, the most common economic impact method for input-output modeling, which measures the total impact a school has on its local area. The report analyzed Biola University’s total direct economic impact (expenditures and salaries) and induced economic impact (how direct economic impact dollars tend to be spent in local economies). Figures were based on the 2016–17 fiscal year where available; data from other years were utilized in some cases and multiple years of data were used in other cases to establish a more appropriate baseline for metrics.