Why College Tuition in the U.S. is So Costly

Despite the comparatively larger public investment in higher education across most states and the federal government, American students are saddled with higher tuition costs than ever. Where is all that money going if not to reduce the costs of attending universities? To hire more qualified educators at least?

The New York Times highlights one major and often understated factor in this odd equation:

Interestingly, increased spending has not been going into the pockets of the typical professor. Salaries of full-time faculty members are, on average, barely higher than they were in 1970. Moreover, while 45 years ago 78 percent of college and university professors were full time, today half of postsecondary faculty members are lower-paid part-time employees, meaning that the average salaries of the people who do the teaching in American higher education are actually quite a bit lower than they were in 1970.

By contrast, a major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase.

By my understanding, this trend also contributes to high healthcare costs, as hospitals and other healthcare facilities increasingly employ, or are administered by, highly paid individuals with little to no medical background.

What are your thoughts and reactions?

Hat tip to my friend James for sharing this article.

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