Published: Oct. 19, 2023 By

CU Boulder generated $4.3 billion throughout the state during the last fiscal year, up from $3.3 billion the previous year, according to a study by the Business Research Division of CU Boulder’s Leeds School of Business. 

The study looked at the 2022–23 fiscal year, when CU Boulder employed 19,189 faculty, staff and students earning $1.1 billion in salaries and benefits. Excluding the number of student workers, CU Boulder employed 11,626 people.

CU Boulder’s direct economic impact, which includes employing workers, buying from local vendors, importing investment, educating the local workforce and exporting research discoveries, totaled $1.8 billion. Meanwhile, the campus’s indirect and induced impact, which includes facilitating company growth and job creation through research, technology transfer and spinoff companies, totaled $2.5 billion. 

There are several factors that affected the increased economic impact for CU Boulder. For instance:

  • The growth of the calculated impact ($3.3 to $4.3 billion) does not account for inflation (if adjusted for inflation, the $3.3 billion would be roughly $3.6 billion); 2022 inflation in Colorado was 8%, which drove increases in cost of goods purchased.
  • Labor expenses increased around 10%.
  • Data quality improved with more detailed expenditures assigned to Colorado.

Locally, CU Boulder was the largest economic contributor to the Boulder metropolitan statistical area.

“These new findings confirm that CU Boulder is a major contributor to our economy and quality of life across the Front Range and beyond, and we’re excited to continue the momentum,” said CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano.

CU Boulder’s research expenditures, including equipment, construction, operations and labor, were estimated at $643 million during fiscal year 2022–23, while the economic contribution of these activities totaled $1.2 billion for Colorado’s economy, according to the study.

The university recorded $777 million in nonlocal student and visitor spending in the state during the latest fiscal year, according to a survey of students. This includes spending on rent, groceries, transportation, child care, recreation and health care.

Direct spending by the Boulder campus during this period totaled an estimated $700 million. That includes $133 million in budgeted costs for construction projects as of the end of June 2023. Among the largest projects systemwide was the Hellems Arts and Sciences and Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre renovation projects at CU Boulder.

Systemwide, the University of Colorado’s four campuses and its two affiliate hospitals generated a total economic impact of $17.2 billion throughout the state during the 2022–23 fiscal year. The system supported a total of 98,175 jobs, mostly in the Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs metropolitan areas.

Total economic impact figures include employee and student worker earnings, operating expenditures, construction, research and spending by students and visitors. The study did not include the impact of alumni, retirees, athletics or technology transfer.

CU Boulder enrolled 37,485 students in the fall of 2023. On a full-time equivalent basis, the university enrolled 32,132 students in 2022–23. Across the system, CU Boulder recorded the largest student enrollment at 55% of the total, followed by CU Denver (19%), UCCS (15%) and CU Anschutz (10%).

In fiscal 2021–22, the CU system awarded 18,096 degrees, including double majors, to 17,963 recipients. CU Boulder accounted for over half of those awarded degrees.