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Green graduates: CUNY alums earned $57 billion in 2019, Stringer report finds

A new data crunch from City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office reveals graduates from the City University of New York system are an economic powerhouse — earning a combined $57 billion in annual earnings in 2019 and contributing $4.2 billion in state income tax that same year. 

The analysis is a first-of-its-kind for Stringer’s office, which has conducted studies on the economic impact of New York City nonprofits and its art, culture and creativity sectors.

In part, the analysis was released to shine a light on the importance that CUNY could play in the city’s pandemic recovery and to support measures meant to bolster the public university system, like a package of bills called a “New Deal for CUNY” recently introduced in the state legislature, according to a spokesperson from the Comptroller’s office. 

Stringer has vocalized his support for the package–which proposes making the system tuition-free for all New Yorkers among other measures–in the past and urged the bills’ passage during a meeting with the State Legislative Fiscal committees in February. 

“CUNY will play a central role in helping develop the workforce of the future,” he said. The university system is made up 25 two year, four year and professional schools and had 265,000 students enrolled in one of its 1,900 courses of study.

“That’s why I support the New Deal for CUNY. It’s simple: Make CUNY tuition free,” Stringer added. “Invest in our educators and staff so that students get the time and attention they need. Pay adjunct professors like the professionals they are.” 

The analysis estimates that the salary sum is $28.6 billion more than what students would have earned without continuing their education past high school with the average salary of graduate with an associates degree to be around $55,000, $61,000 for those with a certificate, $65,000 for those holding a bachelor’s degree, $94,000 for those with a master’s and surprisingly, $90,000 for those who earned a PhD.

Nearly 80% of CUNY graduates work in New York state full time after graduation with there currently being around 850,000 CUNY graduates working in the state, or 10% of the state’s private sector workforce and 17% of the state’s workforce with higher education, the analysis found. 

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