Numbers don't do colleges justice

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Everybody talks about the Pittsburgh region's abundance of colleges but the reality of thousands of students -- and millions of dollars -- becomes apparent when tallying the financial weight of the various schools.

The top five schools alone, ranked by total revenue, controlled almost $3 billion in the last fiscal year through tuition, grants, gifts and various other sources.

That's only about half of grocer Giant Eagle's annual sales, but any educational entity has more impact on the economy than appears on the bottom line.

Just ask Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate Chad Hurley, one of the co-founders of the online video sharing site,, or University of Pittsburgh Professor Marlin Mickle, whose research in radio frequency identification has attracted the notice of Wal-Mart.

Pitt was, no surprise, the institution with the most. The Oakland school with more than 30,000 students had total revenue of $1.5 billion in the fiscal year ended last June, followed by its technology-rich neighbor, Carnegie Mellon University with almost 10,000 students and total revenue of $728 million. Revenue includes a range of financial sources, including tuition and fees, grants, endowment earnings and state appropriations, if any.

There's a concentration of educational economic power in the city, of course.

In addition to the big two, Pittsburgh is the hometown of Duquesne University, Chatham College, Point Park University and Carlow University. There's also the North Shore campus of the Community College of Allegheny County, an institution that reaches out into the suburbs with credit courses taken by almost 30,000 people and noncredit classes drawing in even more.

But the economy of the entire region can lean on collegiate pillars. The fourth largest educational institution was Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana County. The newly anointed Crimson Hawks reported $210.7 million in total revenue.

Not far away in Butler County, Slippery Rock University reported total revenue of $119.8 million, while California University of Pennsylvania, in Washington County, had revenue of $95 million.

Teresa F. Lindeman can be reached at or at 412-263-2018.


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