REPORT: IUPUI undergraduate schools ranked by benefit to taxpayers

When college degrees help graduates obtain high-paying jobs, the state and the university both benefit from an enlarged tax base in the former case and an enlarged alumni donor base in the latter. As such, Collegiate Commons, Inc. has analyzed institutional data to determine the impact of Indiana University Indianapolis and Purdue in Indianapolis programs on the Indiana tax base. The following represents the first report drawn from that data, in which the undergraduate programs at each school on the Indianapolis campus are ranked by how much they might directly increase the Indiana tax base the first year after students graduate.

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Please note that the estimated tax base increase data may not reflect actual tax base increases, as they are solely an estimation used to rank the schools. More practical data could be obtained by comparing each to the estimated tax base increase for students one year after high school, using a similar formula.

  1. Purdue School of Engineering

Estimated tax base increase per year: $25,995,009.60

How this was estimated:

The median salary of engineering students ($60,000 per year) was multiplied by the proportion of alumni who reported working in-state (84%). This was further multiplied by the proportion of alumni who reported that their job was related to their major (93.10%) to account for income that alumni may have been able to obtain without getting a degree from their school. This number was then multiplied by an estimation of the average number of degree recipients per year, which was obtained by taking the total undergraduate enrollment in the school in the Spring of 2024 and dividing it by four (554). This was then subtracted by the median salary of Indiana high school graduates that are employed full-time ($36,441) and multiplied by an estimation of the average number of degree recipients at this school per year (554).

  1. Purdue School of Science

Estimated tax base increase per year: $16,939.677

How this was estimated: 

Median salary ($39,000) x Percent employed in-state (89.2%) x Percent job related to major (75.7%) x degrees per year (643.25)

  1. IUI Kelley School of Business

Estimated tax base increase per year: $15,411,177.60

How this was estimated: 

Median salary ($50,000) x Percent employed in-state (89.6%) x Percent job related to major (89.7%) x degrees per year (383.5)

  1. IUI School of Nursing

Estimated tax base increase per year: $13,374,962.58

How this was estimated: 

Median salary ($49,000) x Percent employed in-state (90.8%) x Percent job related to major (98%) x degrees per year (306.75)

  1. IUI Luddy School of Informatics & Computing

Estimated tax base increase per year: $6,756,483.83

How this was estimated: 

Median salary ($47,000) x Percent employed in-state (90%) x Percent job related to major (83.3%) x degrees per year (191.75)

  1. IUI School of Health & Human Sciences

Estimated tax base increase per year: $6,275,439.06

How this was estimated: 

Median salary ($35,000) x Percent employed in-state (89.5%) x Percent job related to major (76.1%) x degrees per year (263.25)

  1. IUI School of Liberal Arts

Estimated tax base increase per year: $5,802,532.08

How this was estimated: 

Median salary ($35,900) x Percent employed in-state (91.7%) x Percent job related to major (56%) x degrees per year (314.75)

  1. IU School of Medicine

Estimated tax base increase per year: $4,131,093.59

How this was estimated: 

Median salary ($52,000) x Percent employed in-state (71.9%) x Percent job related to major (96.5%) x degrees per year (114.5)

  1. IUI School of Education

Estimated tax base increase per year: $3,919,641.40

How this was estimated: 

Median salary ($40,500) x Percent employed in-state (97%) x Percent job related to major (94.7%) x degrees per year (105.25)

  1. Herron School of Art & Design

Estimated tax base increase per year: $3,109,215.00

How this was estimated: 

Median salary ($34,000) x Percent employed in-state (89%) x Percent job related to major (60%) x degrees per year (171.25)

  1. IU School of Dentistry 

Estimated tax base increase per year: $2,271,405.00

How this was estimated: 

Median salary ($60,000) x Percent employed in-state (92.9%) x Percent job related to major (100%) x degrees per year (40.75)

  1. IUI O’Neill School of Public & Environmental Affairs

Estimated tax base increase per year: $2,076,726.60

How this was estimated: 

Median salary ($39,000) x Percent employed in-state (95%) x Percent job related to major (64.8%) x degrees per year (86.5)

  1. Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health

Estimated tax base increase per year: $2,041,782.12

How this was estimated: 

Median salary ($36,000) x Percent employed in-state (93.8%) x Percent job related to major (87%) x degrees per year (69.5)

  1. IUI School of Social Work

Estimated tax base increase per year: $1,953,368.34

How this was estimated: 

Median salary ($35,000) x Percent employed in-state (97%) x Percent job related to major (79.8%) x degrees per year (72.25)

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Limitations of this study

Naming conventions used in this report utilize “IUI” rather than the official IU designation in most cases to increase clarity.

The salary data used in the report is not specific to those employed in Indiana. As such, if alumni employed in other states make significantly less or more than those in Indiana, the data may not be representative. Additionally, the data does not account for students attending graduate programs, or certain career fields leading to significant salary increases over time, potentially artificially deflating the value of certain degrees. That being said, using the alumni salary median rather than the average partially addresses this issue. 

Alumni self-reporting data, while it has its use, may not be completely representative due to response bias and other factors. This ranking takes into account multiple sources of data using different class cohorts, which may further reduce the accuracy of the ranking. The enrollment data used takes into account Spring of 2024 data, while the rest of the data takes into account 2016-2021 data. 

It is also possible that the percent of students who report that their jobs are related to their major may fail to accurately account for the inflated value of a degree, and rather reflect the inflated value of *specific* degree when compared to a general studies degree. Further research is needed to analyze the effects of credentialism on the job market. In a future report, Collegiate Commons, Inc. will analyze degree-specific data for a more in-depth look at how they might impact the tax base. 

For more accurate institutional data regarding how the university benefits taxpayers, click here

Collegiate Commons Inc. is the publisher of The Collegiate Commons, and is a 501(c)(3) news and educational foundation. If you see an error in this report, please email thecollegiatecommons@gmail.com.

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