INDIANAPOLIS - An Indianapolis-based association representing the state's 30 independent colleges and universities says collectively they have a $5.4 billion impact on Indiana’s economy annually. Independent Colleges of Indiana has released an economic impact study to illustrate what role the institutions have.

“These institutions play an important role in generating jobs and boosting businesses across the state. They are vital to the economic health of their communities and a smart investment for the state of Indiana,” said David Wantz, president and chief executive officer of Independent Colleges of Indiana.

ICI says the schools employ 22,000 workers, making it the seventh-largest employer in the state. The association says the study revealed the 30 campuses welcome 3.5 million visitors a year, who spend a half-billion dollars at area restaurants, hotels and other establishments.

Click here to read the study.