Download the Full Report

News - NOCHE Impact Assessment

Impact and Efficiency of Higher Education in Northeast Ohio

New report shows who benefits most from access to college experience


CLEVELAND: At a time when many American families are struggling with the cost of higher education— and questioning its value—a new report provides valuable insight into the Northeast Ohio higher education scene. The first-ever study of the region’s higher education institutions (IHE’s) measures the collective impact of the 62 colleges, universities and other post-secondary institutions which serve a quarter million students, concluding that collective costs are low, while collective value is high.

The report was released by the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE), a collaboration of colleges, universities and businesses focused on increasing degree holders to support regional economic growth. It comes at a time when the State of Ohio has set a new goal to dramatically increase the number of adults with post-secondary certificates and degrees to fill Ohio’s growing talent gap, and is looking for regional examples of measurable success.

Highlights include:

• Though the region serves about one-third of enrollees in higher education in the state, its proportion of minority students and older students served is significantly greater. For example: Northeast Ohio colleges and universities serve 42% of the state’s African-American students, 37% of the state’s Hispanic students, and 42% of students 40 years of age and older.

• Though enrollment has declined in the region, the rate of growth in degree production quadrupled from 2010 to 2014, demonstrating the effectiveness of programs to retain and graduate students.

• The region accounts for 45% of the state’s dual enrollment students (under age 18, still in high school and taking college courses for credit), about 10,500 students each fall. The program saves families a collective $20 million annually.

• Universities and colleges in the region award nearly 43,150 certificates, associate, bachelor or graduate degrees each year. About 75% of 2-year transfer students in our region stay in the region (by attending 4-year institutions within northeast Ohio), demonstrating both cost-effectiveness and efficiency in higher degree attainment.

• Workers with an associate degree earn, on average, $25.04 per hour. Hourly wages increase to $30.87 for those with a bachelor’s degree, and $32.01 for those with a master’s. Workers with a doctorate/professional degree earn, on average, $58.71 per hour.

• NEO college students paid $2,300 less on average than college students statewide.

• Though 31% of all higher education employees work in Northeast Ohio, they represent only 25% of the state’s higher education payroll; non-instructional staffing is 10% lower than the statewide average.

• There are 38,000 people employed at Northeast Ohio colleges and universities, collectively earning $1.8 billion in salaries and wages, and paying $136 million in state and local taxes.

The report resulted from a request by the NOCHE Board of Directors comprised of presidents of 13 college and university presidents and business leaders. “We wanted to understand and assess the true impact of higher education institutions,” says Robert Reffner, Board Chair. “Now we have a baseline from which to measure the success of initiatives undertaken to improve degree attainment.”

“This data analysis allows us to see what we are doing right, better understand strategies that are working, and identify the collective impact of strategies going forward,” said Holly Harris Bane, who was appointed President of NOCHE by the Board of Trustees at its August meeting. “For example, even though our rate of growth in degree production is impressive, we have room for improvement especially in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math which align with regional industry clusters.” Harris Bane led the NOCHE Task Force that produced the NEO Higher Education Impact Assessment.

Robert W. Briggs, outgoing NOCHE president, praised Harris Bane and the team for producing a substantive report on the impact of higher education during a time of unprecedented challenges and fast-moving changes facing colleges and universities. Briggs led NOCHE for more than two years, during which time the organization strengthened its internship programs to help provide regional employers with a talent pipeline, and NOCHE members were recognized nationally by CEO’s for Cities and Living Cities with the $1 million Talent Dividend Award for progress in raising rates of student retention and degree attainment.

The six million data points were gathered by Public Insight Corporation, analyzed by a NOCHE Task Force of 13 institutions of higher learning and Lorain County Community Public Services Institute which also is responsible for the final product. The 62 colleges and universities in Northeast Ohio were compared to 168 institutions in Ohio over a five-year period (2010-2014).

The full report is available at

For more information: Holly J. Harris Bane, President, Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education,, 330.819.9543.

NOCHE: Connecting business and higher education