The Republic of Letters

Tuition Rates Increased Because of Excessive Spending, Not Loss of State Funding

Want of state funding is not the cause of increased tuition rates at our public universities; profligate spending is. In fact, if, per capita, universities spent on students what they spent on them in 2000, tuition rates could be cut, on average, by $1200 per year even without any increases in state funding. Shockingly, even after adjusting for inflation and despite budget cuts, colleges spend more on each student now, during our era of the Great Recession, than they did over a decade ago.  See this post from Yglesias and the underlying study on which it is based.

So on what have colleges been spending? Administrative bloat. Yglesias writes:

Top administrators get paid more than they used to and there are more of them. Schools have invested a lot in information technology, but that’s generally been layered on top of other pieces of infrastructure rather than replacing anything. Schools compete to attract the applicants with the highest SAT/ACT scores so they try to make nicer buildings.

Bottom line:

In the face of budget cuts, prestigious public colleges and universities have started spending more money in pursuit of fairly hazy goals.

This really gets under my craw and should get under yours too. For, by doing this, colleges are doing nothing but erecting barriers against strivers who want nothing more than what is quintessentially American, to move on up.