Educational costs

Harvard Tuition History
Harvard Tuition History Bar Graph
Harvard Tuition Rate of Increase
Tuition versus Room-and-Board

Miscellaneous Articles

Harvard Tuition History
Year Tuition
Then 2000 2007
1900 $150 $2,500? $3,000? 25 - William McKinley
. . . . 26 - Theodore Roosevelt
. . . . 27 - William Howard Taft
1915 150 2,600 3,100 28 - Woodrow Wilson
1916 200 3,200 3,800
. . . .
1920 200 1,700 2,100 29 - Warren G. Harding
1921 250 2,400 3,000
. . . .
1924 250 2,400 3,000 30 - Calvin Coolidge
1925 300 3,000 3,600
. . . .
1927 300 3,000 3,600
1928 400 4,028 4,850 31 - Herbert Hoover
. . . .
. . . . 32 - Franklin D. Roosevelt
. . . .
1947 400 3,089 3,719 33 - Harry S. Truman
1948 525 3,751 4,517
1949 600 4,341 5,227
1950 600 4,287 5,162
1951 600 3,974 4,785
1952 600 3,899 4,695 34 - Dwight D. Eisenhower
1953 800 5,160 6,212
1954 800 5,121 6,166
1955 800 5,140 6,189
1956 1,000 6,331 7,623
1957 1,000 6,128 7,379
1958 1,250 7,448 8,968
1959 1,250 7,397 8,906
1960 1,250 7,272 8,756 35 - John F. Kennedy
1961 1,520 8,754 10,540
1962 1,520 8,667 10,436
1963 1,520 8,554 10,299 36 - Lyndon B. Johnson
1964 1,760 9,777 11,772
1965 1,760 9,621 11,585
1966 1,760 9,354 11,263
1967 2,000 10,312 12,416
1968 2,000 9,897 11,916 37 - Richard M. Nixon
1969 2,400 11,261 13,559
1970 2,600 11,539 13,894
1971 2,800 11,905 14,335 Wage-price controls begin
1972 3,000 12,359 14,881
1973 3,200 12,411 14,994 Wage-price controls end
1974 3,400 11,876 14,299 38 - Gerald R. Ford
1975 3,740 11,971 14,414
1975 3,590 11,491 13,836
1976 3,950 11,954 14,394 39 - James E. Carter
1977 4,280 12,162 14,644
1978 4,665 12,321 14,835
1979 5,110 12,120 14,594
1980 5,800 12,121 14,594 40 - Ronald W. Reagan
1981 6,695 12,683 15,271
1982 7,931 14,153 17,040 some totals including R&B
1983 8,752 15,131 18,219
1984 9,500 15,745 18,958
1985 10,266 16,429 19,782
1986 11,040 17,346 20,150
1987 11,645 17,652 21,254
1988 12,310 17,919 21,575 41 - George H.W. Bush
1989 13,085 18,172 21,880
1990 13,960 18,393 22,146
1991 14,860 18,788 22,622
1992 15,870 19,478 23,454 42 - William J. Clinton
1993 16,856 20,087 24,187
1994 17,851 20,742 24,975
1995 18,838 21,285 25,629
1996 19,770 21,698 26,126
1997 20,600 22,102 26,612
1998 21,342 22,547 27,148
1999 22,054 22,795 27,447
2000 22,694 22,694 27,325 43 - George W. Bush
2001 23,457 22,808 27,463
2002 24,630 23,576 28,387
2003 26,066 24,394 29,373
2004 27,448 25,021 30,127
2005 28,752 25,351 30,525
2006 30,275 25,860 31,137
2007 31,456 26,125 31,456
2008 32,557 26,392 31,778 44 - Barack H. Obama
2009 33,696 27,046 32,566
2010 34,976 27,620 33,260 *
2011 36,305 27,793 33,465 *
2012 37,576 28,183 33,934 *
2013 38,891 28,748 34,615 *
2014 40,418 29,400 35,400 *
2015 41,632 30,247 36,420 *
2016 43,280 *
* First created 2008-02-05

  1. Tuition figures above the horizontal line,
    for 1975 and earlier,
    are derived from articles in the Harvard Crimson;
    those below the horizontal line,
    for 1975 and later,
    are from (various issues of) either
    the Harvard Fact Book or the Harvard Student Handbook.
  2. The tuition figures from the Crimson
    may (e.g.) or may not include student fees;
    the Fact Book figures evidently do not include fees:
    the Fact Book contains the statement
    “All amounts exclude the University Health Service fee”,
    and a look at the 2006-07 figures from the Financial Aid Office
    shows that the FY2007 Fact Book figure includes no fees.

    These fees are considerable,
    amounting to over ten percent of the tuition:
    for 2007-08, they are:
    $1,426 Health Services Fee
    $2,116 Student Activities Fee
    $1,362 Health Insurance (only if the student is not covered by family’s health plan),
    so they total either $3,542 or $4,904.
  3. The correlation between "Year" and tuition differ between the above list
    and that in the Harvard Factbook.
    By year YYYY I mean the academic year that starts in fall YYYY;
    the Harvard Factbook evidently refers to the year ending in spring YYYY.
    Thus there is a one year offset between the two tables.
  4. The year 1975 is deliberately included from both sources;
    the $150 higher Crimson figure
    presumably reflects student fees not considered by the Fact Book.
  5. If somebody reading this knows how to obtain
    authoritative figures for pre-1975 Harvard tuitions,
    I would appreciate it
    if they would add a comment to this post
    explaining where those figures can be found.
  6. Conversions of dollars to reflect changes in the cost of living
    were done by the calculator on the BLS web page.
    Figures are shown for both 2000 and 2007;
    2000 as a standard benchmark year and
    2007 because that is the most current year available,
    as of 2008-02-05.

    The BLS calculator (as of 2009-06-11) only goes back to 1913,
    so the 1900 conversions are guesswork on my part.
    the change from the 1916 conversion to the 1920 conversion
    at the BLS web site
    seems wildly improbable:
    $200 in 1916 dollars = $3,159.63 in 2000 dollars, while
    $200 in 1920 dollars = $1,722.00 in 2000 dollars,
    but I’ve triple checked it, so if there is a problem it is with the BLS, not me.
  7. Presidents in red are our war-time presidents
    (McKinley’s was in 1898, but I’m counting him anyhow).
  8. Am I the only one who wishes universities would round their tuitions to the nearest $100?
    (As Harvard mainly did up through 1974, and always to the nearest $10.)
    (Rhetorical question.)

Some miscellaneous articles I ran across while researching the above
that I found interesting:

Here is a graphical presentation,
a horizontally-oriented bar graph to be precise,
of the growth of Harvard’s tuition
even after adjustment is made for inflation.

Harvard Tuition in Year-2000 Dollars
1928 1234
1947 123
1948 1234
1949 1234
1950 1234
1951 1234
1952 1234
1953 12345
1954 12345
1955 12345
1956 123456
1957 123456
1958 1234567
1959 1234567
1960 1234567
1961 123456789
1962 123456789
1963 123456789
1964 1234567890
1965 1234567890
1966 123456789
1967 1234567890
1968 1234567890
1969 12345678901
1970 123456789012
1971 123456789012
1972 123456789012
1973 123456789012
1974 123456789012
1975 123456789012

1975 12345678901
1976 123456789012
1977 123456789012
1978 123456789012
1979 123456789012
1980 123456789012
1981 1234567890123
1982 12345678901234
1983 123456789012345
1984 1234567890123456
1985 1234567890123456
1986 12345678901234567
1987 123456789012345678
1988 123456789012345678
1989 123456789012345678
1990 123456789012345678
1991 1234567890123456789
1992 1234567890123456789
1993 12345678901234567890
1994 123456789012345678901
1995 123456789012345678901
1996 1234567890123456789012
1997 1234567890123456789012
1998 12345678901234567890123
1999 12345678901234567890123
2000 12345678901234567890123
2001 12345678901234567890123
2002 123456789012345678901234
2003 123456789012345678901234
2004 1234567890123456789012345
2005 1234567890123456789012345
2006 12345678901234567890123456
2007 12345678901234567890123456
2008 12345678901234567890123456
2009 123456789012345678901234567
2010 1234567890123456789012345678
2011 1234567890123456789012345678
2012 1234567890123456789012345678
2013 12345678901234567890123456789
2014 12345678901234567890123456789
2015 123456789012345678901234567890

Created 2008-02-05

  1. The quantity being represented is Harvard’s tuition,
    converted to the year 2000.
    The number of digits is
    the number of kilodollars
    of the 2000-adjusted, rounded to the nearest thousand, Harvard tuition.
    Thus, for example,
    1983 123456789012345
    denotes that
    the 1983 tuition, when converted to year-2000 dollars,
    is between $14,500 and $15,499.
  2. The horizontal line demarcates between
    the 1975 and earlier tuitions,
    obtained from articles in the Harvard Crimson,
    which often, perhaps always, include required student fees, and
    the 1975 and later tuitions, obtained from Harvard Factbooks,
    which as a matter of policy do not include fees.
    For the exact dollar amounts, and links to the Crimson articles,
    see the Harvard Tuition History table.
  3. To convert to 2007 dollars, multiply by 1.2
    (actually 1.204, but 1.2 seems close enough).
    Of course,
    you are also multiplying the rounding error in the 2000 figure.

Harvard Tuition Rate of Increase
Period Tuition
(in year-2000 dollars)
Percent Increase
Start End Total Annual
1929–1950 $4,028 $4,287 6% 0.2%
1950–1960 4,287 7,272 70 5.4
1960–1970 7,272 11,539 59 4.7
1970–1980 11,539 12,121 5 0.5
1980–1990 12,121 18,393 52 4.3
1990–2000 18,393 22,694 23 2.1
2000–2008 22,694 26,392 16 1.9
1950–2000 4,287 22,694 429 3.4
1950–2008 4,287 26,392 516 3.2
1929–1960 4,028 7,272 81 1.9
1960–2000 7,272 22,694 221 2.9
1960–2008 7,272 26,392 263 3.3
1929–2000 4,028 22,694 463 2.5
1929–2008 4,028 26,392 555 2.4

  1. All dollars are year-2000 dollars.
    (For how dollars were converted, see here;
    for the actual dollars, see here.)
    It happens that it is easy to convert year-2000 dollars to year-2007 dollars:
    just multiply by 1.2.
  2. As a check for whether the annualized rates are correct,
    consider for example the period 1950–2000:
    4,287 × 1.03450 = 22,813 (cf.),
    close enough to 22,694 considering
    1.034 is a truncation of the more exact multiplier
    (to see the exact result click here).
    It’s a good idea to do these checks;
    when I first did this check
    I discovered that my initial calculations were erroneous,
    due to my failure to realize that
    Google’s calculator considers “log” to be the common logarithm;
    to get the natural logarithm it requires “ln” (cf.).
    For the formula used to calculate the compounding rate, click here.
  3. The figures for the 1970–80 decade are misleading,
    for reasons explained here;
    the problem is that
    the sources I used for pre-1975 tuition included student fees,
    while the post-1975 sources do not.
    This in and of itself makes for about a ten percent difference.
    If this were taken into account,
    the percent increase for the seventies would be around 16 percent
    rather than 5 percent.
    Still by far the lowest decade for increase.

Harvard Tuition versus Room and Board, 1913 versus 2008
CPI Tuition
and Fees
Room and
1913 $150 $150 $340 1 0.44
2008 $3,262 $36,173 $11,042 11.1 3.3
2008/1913 22 241 32.5 11.1 7.4
Annual rate 3.3% 5.9% 3.7% 2.6% 2.1%

  1. Unlike most of the dollar figures in the other tables,
    here the dollar figures are not adjusted for inflation
    (except of course for the latest dollar figure in the “CPI” column).
    They are the raw dollar figures from the years indicated.
    Also, in the other tables
    the post-1975 tuition figures do not include fees;
    here the 2008 figure, like the 1913 one, does.
  2. The tuition, room and board figures for 1913
    are from a 1914-01-27 Crimson article.
    From the article (see also above):

    Yale Harvard Princeton
    Tuition, $155 $150 $160
    Board, 190 200 180
    Room, 150 140 140
    Light, fuel, -- -- 39
    Totals, $495 $490 $519

    The tuition, fees, room and board for 2008–09
    are from a Peterson’s report.
  3. The first data column, perhaps mislabeled “CPI”,
    shows the equivalent buying power in 2008
    to the 1913 tuition of $150,
    according to the calculator at the BLS web page.
  4. Ninety-five years and a rise in the tuition/R&B ratio from .44 to 3.3
    covers a lot of ground.
    As it happens, I was applying to colleges in the early 1960s,
    with fifty years of our period elapsed and forty-five to go.
    At that time all of the elite colleges
    had their tuition about equal to their room and board,
    about $1,500 for each.
  5. If the 1913 tuition/R&B ratio is applied to the 2008 R&B,
    one gets a 2008 tuition of ($150/$340) × $11,042 = $4,871 !

    Some mathematical digressions:
  6. As to the “cross-ratio” or ratio-of-ratios cells on the right,
    ( (t2/r2) / (t1/r1) ) =
    ( (t2/t1) / (r2/r1) ).
  7. As to the annual rate of growth for the tuition/R&B ratio,
    note that there is another formula for it:
    If we denote the rate of tuition growth by rate-t,
    and likewise
    rate-r for R&B growth and
    rate-(t/r) for growth of the tuition/R&B ratio,

    (rate-t)/(rate-r) =
    exp(log(t2/t1)/n) / exp(log(r2/r1)/n) =
    exp{log(t2/t1)/n - log(r2/r1)/n} =
    exp{[log(t2/t1)-log(r2/r1)]/n} =
    exp{[log((t2/t1)/(r2/r1))]/n} =
    exp{[log((t2/r2)/(t1/r1))]/n} =

    In words,
    “the ratio of the growth rates equals the growth rate of the ratios”,
    “computing growth rates and taking ratios commute”.
    Or, more simply,
    using the theoretical formula for the growth rate as an nth root:
    rate-t = (t2/t1)1/n,
    we have

    (rate-t)/(rate-r) =
    (t2/t1)1/n / (r2/r1)1/n =
    [(t2/t1)/(r2/r1)]1/n =
    [(t2/r2)/(t1/r1)]1/n =

    using the fact that (ab)n = anbn
    and the cross-ratio formula above.

    As a numerical check on this result, using the numbers in the table above,
    (1.059/1.037)^95 = 7.35,
    reasonable close considering the numbers in the ratio are truncated.


Mission and Money: Understanding the University by Burton A. Weisbrod, Jeffrey P. Ballou, Evelyn D. Asch Cambridge University Press, 2008 Mission and Money goes beyond the common focus on elite universities and examines the entire higher education industry, including the rapidly growing for-profit schools. The sector includes research universities, four-year colleges, two-year schools, and non-degree-granting career academies. Many institutions pursue mission-related activities that are often unprofitable and engage in profitable revenue raising activities to finance them. This book contains a good deal of original research on schools’ revenue sources from tuition, donations, research, patents, endowments, and other activities. It considers lobbying, distance education, and the world market, as well as advertising, branding, and reputation. The pursuit of revenue, while essential to achieve the mission of higher learning, is sometimes in conflict with that mission itself. The tension between mission and money is also highlighted in the chapter on the profitability of intercollegiate athletics. The concluding chapter investigates implications of the analysis for public policy.

Miscellaneous Articles

College Presidents Defend Rising Tuition, but Lawmakers Sound Skeptical By TAMAR LEWIN New York Times, 2008-09-08 [An excerpt.] Shirley M. Tilghman, the president of Princeton University, said that keeping up with the explosion of knowledge was an inherently expensive process, as the emergence of new fields of knowledge, like genomics, required new spending. “When Princeton made the commitment to create a Genomics Institute, we did not turn around and cancel the department of classics,” she said. [Look what she left out: When Princeton established the institute, it received $35 million to help establish it [see also]. Note also: “The Institute is the hub of the Center for Quantitative Biology, funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).” Note also: “The Center for Quantitative Biology at Princeton University's Lewis-Sigler Institute was established in August 2004 by NIH grant P50 GM071508 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).” You see, she is using the establishment of the institute to (partially) justify the rise in undergraduate tuition, without noting that the institute has its own funding sources, as something primarily devoted to research rather than undergraduate teaching. It’s a wonder that Congress lets these “distinguished” university presidents get away with such shell games. How dare she try to bamboozle the public, while hiding from the public the real causes of higher education’s run-away cost growth.]
Downturn Expected to Drive Tuition Up By TAMAR LEWIN New York Times, 2008-10-30 [An excerpt; emphasis is added.] With the troubles in the stock market ... both public and private colleges may soon be in serious financial straits, forcing large increases in tuition. “Given the economic strain on state budgets, the pressure on state governments to shift the cost of education to students and families may prove irresistible,” said Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, which represents 1,600 colleges and universities. “Private institutions, too, given the loss of endowment income and expected cutbacks in private giving, will likely be forced to increase tuition at the same time they struggle to increase institutional financial aid.” [Well, yes, those are two standard excuses for charging students more. But what is missing is an explanation of why, when those trends went in the other direction, tuition still rose so rapidly.]
Cost of Higher Education Heading Up By Steve Hendrix Washington Post, 2008-10-30 [This is the WP's version of the NYT story above, but it contains an additional quote (emphasis is added):] “I am concerned that we are entering a period -- as we did following the recession of the late 1980s and early 1990s -- when we will see a sharp spike in tuition prices at both public and private institutions,” [ACE President Molly Corbett Broad] said. “Presidents and boards of trustees will be reluctant to increase tuition, but they will likely have little choice.” [Take a look at the pseudo-bar graph showing Harvard’s inflation-adjusted tuition. I certainly do not see a “sharp spike” during the years around 1990. In fact, the table showing the actual numbers shows that Harvard’s tuition, in year-2000 dollars, in 1988 was about $18K, in 1993 was about $20K. That’s an increase of about eleven percent in five years, or two percent a year. Further, the rate of increase is fairly constant over the years. Am I the only one who feels we are not getting the straight story at all from the university community about, not only the why, but even the what of university tuition increases?]
College May Become Unaffordable for Most in U.S. By TAMAR LEWIN New York Times, 2008-12-03 [An excerpt; emphasis is added.] “Projecting out to 2036, tuition would go from 11 percent of the family budget to 24 percent of the family budget,...” [Does no one seem to be in a position to demand answers from university administrators as to just why these astounding and outrageous rises in college tuition are being forecast?]


College Students Paying More for Less By KATE ZERNIKE New York Times, 2009-01-16 [The full article:] [1] College students are covering more of what it costs to educate them, even as most colleges are spending less on students, according to a new study. [2] The study, based on data that colleges and universities report to the federal government, also found that the share of higher education budgets that goes to instruction has declined, while the portion spent on administrative costs has increased. [3] It describes a system that is increasingly stratified: the smallest number of students — about 1 million out of a total 18 million students — attend the private research universities that spend the most per student. The largest number of students — 6 million — attend community colleges, which spend the least per student, and have cut spending most sharply as government aid has declined. [4] “Students are paying more, and a greater share of the costs, but are arguably getting less,” said Jane Wellman, the executive director of the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity and Accountability, which drafted the study. [5] The Delta Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, seeks to increase college affordability by controlling costs, a goal it says can be accomplished without sacrificing quality. The study is a rare effort to look inside what researchers call the black box of higher education: the question of why it costs so much and where the money goes. [6] Colleges have justified rising tuition, in part, by saying that it does not cover anywhere near the full cost of educating a student. That is still true, but less so; the study found that students are contributing a greater share of the cost of their education at all kinds of institutions, even after accounting for scholarships and other tuition discounts. [7] In 2006, the last year for which data is available, students at public colleges and research universities paid about half the cost of their education — defined as the cost of instruction, student services and a portion of spending on operations, support and maintenance. That is up about 10 percentage points since 2002. At community colleges, students covered about 30 percent of their education, up from 24 percent. [8] At private institutions, the increases were less steep, but students cover a greater share: at private research universities, students paid 55.8 percent of the cost of their education in 2006, up from 55.3 percent in 2002. At private colleges that offer bachelors degrees — essentially, liberal arts colleges — the student share went to 63.5 percent in 2006 from 57.7 percent in 2002. At those that offer masters’ degrees, it went to 83.6 percent in 2006 from 75.5 percent in 2002. [9] At public institutions, spending on instruction declined from 2002 to 2005, and increased in 2006, but the increases did not make up for earlier reductions. [10] Spending on instruction decreased at private institutions, as well, except for private research universities, where it rose slightly. [11] “The institutions whose primary mission is teaching — the masters and community colleges and bachelors colleges, are slowly disinvesting in the teaching function,” Ms. Wellman said. [12] And the percentage of the budget going to instruction declined everywhere between 1995 and 2006 — to 63 percent from 64.4 percent at public research institutions, to 50.2 percent from 52.8 percent at public community colleges, and to 38.9 percent from 40.7 percent at private bachelors colleges. [13] The biggest decline occurred at private research universities, where the percentage of the budget devoted to instruction went to 57.9 percent in 2006 from 62.3 percent in 1996. [14] Meanwhile, the share spent on administration and support increased everywhere. At public research universities, those costs consumed 28.3 percent of the budget in 2006, up from 27.7 percent in 1995. At private research institutions, they accounted for 32.9 percent of the budget, up from 30.1 percent, and at public community colleges, 37.7, up from 35.9 percent. [15] Tuition increased faster than spending on education, with students at public institutions taking on the biggest increases, as states contributed less per student. [16] Had tuition increased only to match spending, the report’s authors calculate, it would have increased only 2.5 percent at public research universities, where it went up 29.8 percent. At private colleges, it would have increased 1.9 percent, rather than 12.5 percent. And at state and community colleges, tuition would have declined, by 2.1 percent and 5.8 percent. Instead, it rose 29 percent and 18.1 percent. [17] As state revenues decline, Ms. Wellman predicted, the problem will only get worse. “We see the picture ahead being more of the same, but dramatically more of the same,” she said.
Many Specialists at Private Universities Earn More Than Presidents By TAMAR LEWIN New York Times, 2009-02-23 [Note especially the graphic showing the ten highest salaries in higher education for 2006-7; eight of the ten are in medical fields. Here is an excerpt from the article; emphasis is added.] Pete Carroll, the head football coach at U.S.C., received $4,415,714 in 2007, about four times as much as the president of the university, Steven B. Sample. Dr. David N. Silvers, the Columbia dermatologist, received $4,332,759, compared with $1,411,894 for Lee C. Bollinger, the president of the university. And he was not the only Columbia employee who out-earned the president: Dr. Jeffrey W. Moses, a professor of medicine, received $2,532,713. “There are a lot of different spheres of influence throughout a university,” said Jeff Selingo, editor of The Chronicle, “and since medical schools and some specialties within them generate so much revenue, it’s not surprising that compensation reflects that.”
Staff Jobs on Campus Outpace Enrollment By TAMAR LEWIN New York Times, 2009-04-21 [1] Over the last two decades, colleges and universities doubled their full-time support staff while enrollment increased only 40 percent, according to a new analysis of government data by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a nonprofit research center. [2] During the same period, the staff of full-time instructors, or equivalent personnel, rose about 50 percent, while the number of managers increased slightly more than 50 percent. [3] The data, based on United States Department of Education filings from more than 2,782 colleges, come from 1987 to 2007, before the current recession prompted many colleges to freeze their hiring. [4] Neither the report nor outside experts on college affordability went so far as to argue that the increase in support staff was directly responsible for spiraling tuition. Most experts say that the largest driver of tuition increases has been the decline in state financing for higher education. [What bullshit. How would that explain the rise in Harvard’s tuition documented above? And Harvard’s tuition, of course, is typical of all the top twenty or so private schools. Lewin is feeding her readers bullshit when she passes off such manifest cover stories to her readers without emphasizing their manifest inability to account for the rise in private school’s tuitions.] [5] Still, the findings raise concerns about administrative bloat, and the increasing focus on the social and residential nature of college life, as opposed to academics. [6] “On a case-by-case basis, many of these hiring decisions might be good ones, but over all, it’s not a sustainable trend,” said Pat Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. [7] “At a time when we’re trying to do something to hold down tuition increases,” Mr. Callan added, “this gives us a pretty good clue where we ought to be looking. And it does raise questions about the conventional wisdom that you can’t do anything to control tuition without affecting academic quality.” [8] The growth in support staff included some jobs that did not exist 20 years ago, like environmental sustainability officers and a broad array of information technology workers. The support staff category includes many different jobs, like residential-life staff, admissions and recruitment officers, fund-raisers, loan counselors and all the back-office staff positions responsible for complying with the new regulations and reporting requirements college face. [9] “A lot of it is definitely trying to keep up with the Joneses,” said Daniel Bennett, a labor economist and the author of the center’s report. “Universities and colleges are catering more to students, trying to make college a lifestyle, not just people getting an education. There’s more social programs, more athletics, more trainers, more sustainable environmental programs.” [10] On average, public colleges have about 8 employees per 100 students, and private colleges about 9, according to the report. [11] In the 20-year period, the report found, the greatest number of jobs added, more than 630,000, were instructors — but three-quarters of those were part-time. Converted to full-time equivalents, those resulted in a total of 939,00 teaching jobs, up from 614,000 in 1987. [12] The largest number of full-time jobs added, more than 278,000, were for support staffs, and grew to more than half a million positions in 2007, from 292,000 in 1987. Colleges also added some 65,000 management positions, almost all of them full time; all told, they had 185,000 managers in 2007, up from about 120,000 managers 20 years earlier. [13] “Colleges have altered the composition of their work force by steadily increasing the number of managerial positions and support/service staff, while at the same time disproportionately increasing the number of part-time staff that provides instruction,” the report said. “Meanwhile, employee productivity relative to enrollment and degrees awarded has been relatively flat in the midst of rising compensation.”
Why College Costs Rise, Even in a Recession By RON LIEBER New York Times, 2009-09-05
College Costs Keep Rising, Report Says By TAMAR LEWIN New York Times, 2009-10-21
GW finds squash to be quite the racket As first school to offer athletic-based aid, the university hopes to build an elite program By Jon Brand Washington Post Sports Section, 2009-11-17 [1] Colleges trying to attract top-caliber students to a campus where tuition, room and board costs more than $50,000 a year will do anything they can to make themselves stand out, to bolster their reputations as elite institutions of learning. When former president Steven Joel Trachtenberg was trying to emboss George Washington University’s image, one of his approaches was original: squash. [2] ... [Trachtenberg] worked with the athletic department to sanction the 25-year-old men’s club [squash] team as varsity and add a women’s program. Both squads started play in fall 2002, and the school recently strengthened its investment. This fall, GW became the first school in the country to offer scholarships to squash players.... [In my probably not so humble opinion, this is either arrogance or insanity. In the 2000s, college costs have for a half-century been going up at a rate well higher than the cost of living (e.g.). Yet GWU adds the expense of not one but two coaches [men’s coach Wendy Lawrence and women’s coach Maura Myers, per the article] for the varsity squash teams, plus one or more scholarships. Why is a squash team even necessary? When I went to college in the 1960s, sure the gym had its squash and racquetball courts, where those few students who had picked up the game at some elite prep school could continue their sport, for the exercise value and the camaraderie involved. It was an individual thing, which seems entirely appropriate. But a team? Why? What does that have to do with the educational mission of a university? Absolutely nothing. But skip to the general American political/scene. The Democrats, in particular, and their fellow-travelers in the media, constantly talk about how ever-rising college tuition is squeezing middle-class families. But somehow they never get around to challenging colleges to explain why tuition has risen so much, and for so long, more than the cost of living. Why do the Democrats not challenge that? And at the university level, why does the university’s board of governors, or whatever, allow such extraneous items to be added to keep jacking up the tuition? The argument is made that “the students demand such amenities.” Well, no doubt a few do. But don’t you think a lot more would prefer a no-frills education, which emphasizes academics rather than amenities?]


Many Washington region colleges limit tuition increases By Daniel de Vise Washington Post, 2010-04-01 [1] Many of the most prestigious -- and expensive -- colleges in the Washington region have capped annual tuition increases at 4 percent for the coming academic year, a gesture, school officials said, of fiscal restraint and a signal to families of the college-bound that they are doing their part to be affordable. [That’s fiscal restraint? As I read this BLS table, the Dec. 2008 to Dec. 2009 CPI change was +2.7 percent. How does capping tuition increases at 4 percent, an increase higher than the rise of the cost of living, amount to fiscal restraint?] ... [The final paragraph:] A pattern of 5 and 6 percent tuition increases over the past two decades has fueled a public perception of runaway prices in private higher education. The reality is more complex. Private tuition and fees have risen less than 3 percent annually since 1990 after adjusting for inflation, according to the College Board. The net price of private college, after subtracting grant aid, has actually gone down in the past five years. [The MSM continues their amazing record of not complaining vociferously about rises in college tuition at the time the colleges raise them. Consider their presentation here, and what they leave out. A rise of three percent annually after inflation may not sound like much on a one-year basis, but three percent compounded annually for twenty years is 1.03^20 -1 = 81 percent. That’s an 81 percent increase on top of the general rise in the cost of living. If that 81 percent increase were removed, college tuitions would be 55 percent of what they are now (and that would still incorporate a CPI COLA increase). Isn’t it amazing that the Washington Post doesn’t seem to consider that something worth making an issue out of? Of course, they do make an issue out of it when they and the Democrats talk about “the squeeze on middle class families” and argue that the government should increase the amount of support it provides for higher education. What is to explain that the MSM essentially looks the other way when colleges raise their tuition, then turns around and argues that the government needs to help people pay for those tuitions, without regard to whether the tuitions are justified? I don’t know of any good answer to that. One might observe that sectors of the economy in which Jews are overrepresented, like education, healthcare, and the financial sector have been sucking up an ever increasing fraction of the nation’s spending, while the media, in which Jews are also overrepresented, seems reluctant to ask too many questions about exactly where that money is going, or, in the case of Wall Street, bills the overpaid gamblers as wizards, rather than charlatans spending an ever-increasing and unnecessary fraction of the money going through their hands on their own expenses and commissions. In other words, just an American version of bakeesh.]
Study Finds a 1.2 Percent Increase in Faculty Pay, the Smallest in 50 Years By TAMAR LEWIN New York Times, 2010-04-12 [1] Academic pay has been squeezed by the recession, according to the annual salary survey by the American Association of University Professors. [2] Over all, salaries for this academic year are 1.2 percent higher than last year, the smallest increase recorded in the survey’s 50 years — and well below the 2.7 percent inflation rate from December 2008 to December 2009. ... [Again, the question begs itself: If faculty salaries are rising so much less rapidly than student tuition, where is the extra money going? Maybe this year they can get away with saying tuitions must go up more sharply to make up for the decline in endowment value (agreed) and, for public universities, possible reductions in state support. But then what explains the rise in tuition in years when the endowment went up (in some cases skyrocketed) and government support went up? Is educating a “more diverse” student body all that much more expensive? Or is it bloated administrative size (all those extra administrators for various PC functions)? Or a combination of the above?]
Share of College Spending for Recreation Is Rising By SAM DILLON New York Times, 2010-07-10 [1] American colleges are spending a declining share of their budgets on instruction and more on administration and recreational facilities for students, according to a study of college costs released Friday. [2] The report, based on government data, documents a growing stratification of wealth across America’s system of higher education. [3] At the top of the pyramid are private colleges and universities, which educate a small portion of the nation’s students, while public universities and community colleges, where tuitions are rising most rapidly, serve greater numbers and have fewer resources. [4] The study of revenues and spending trends of American institutions of higher education from 1998 through 2008 traces how the patterns at elite private institutions like Harvard and Amherst differed from sprawling public universities like Ohio State and community colleges like Alabama Southern. [5] The United States is reputed to have the world’s wealthiest postsecondary education system, with average spending of around $19,000 per student compared with $8,400 across other developed countries, said the report, “Trends in College Spending 1998-2008,” by the Delta Cost Project, a nonprofit group in Washington that promotes greater scrutiny of college costs to keep tuitions affordable. [6] “Our analysis shows that these comparisons are misleading,” Jane Wellman, the group’s executive director, said in an e-mail statement. “While the United States has some of the wealthiest institutions in the world, it also has a ‘system’ of postsecondary education with far more economic stratification than is true of any other country.” [7] Community colleges, which enroll about a third of students, spend close to $10,000 per student per year, Ms. Wellman said, while private research institutions, which enroll far fewer students, spend an average of $35,000 a year for each one. [8] Undergraduate and graduate enrollments nationwide grew to 18.6 million students overall in 2008 from 14.8 million in 1998, an increase of 26 percent, the report said. Among all the sectors that make up American postsecondary education, public community colleges added the most students over the decade, growing to 6.3 million from 5 million. [9] By comparison, enrollment at private colleges and universities grew to 2 million students from 1.8 million in the 10 years. [10] Tuition, on average, increased more rapidly over the decade at public institutions than it did at private ones. Average tuition rose 45 percent at public research universities and 36 percent at community colleges from 1998 to 2008, compared with about 21 percent at private research universities. [11] But the trend toward increased spending on nonacademic areas prevailed across the higher education spectrum, with public and private, elite and community colleges increasing expenditures more for student services than for instruction, the report said. [12] The student services category can include spending on career counseling and financial aid offices, but also on intramural athletics and student centers. [13] “This is the country-clubization of the American university,” said Richard K. Vedder, a professor at Ohio University who studies the economics of higher education. “A lot of it is for great athletic centers and spectacular student union buildings. In the zeal to get students, they are going after them on the basis of recreational amenities.” [14] On average, spending on instruction increased 22 percent over the decade at private research universities, about the same as tuition, but 36 percent for student services and 36 percent for institutional support, a category that includes general administration, legal services and public relations, the study said. [15] At public research universities, spending for student services rose 20 percent over the decade, compared with 10 percent for instruction. [16] Even at community colleges, with their far smaller budgets, spending on students services increased 9.5 percent, compared with 3.4 percent for instruction. [17] The study also said that the recession that began in the last months of 2008 had dramatically changed the economics of higher education, probably forever. [18] “The funding models we’ve created in higher ed are not sustainable,” Ms. Wellman said. “We ran up spending in the ’90s and early 2000s to levels we can’t maintain, and this is true not only in the elite privates, but in many of the public institutions, too.” [19] Now, with private-college endowments battered and state legislatures slashing university budgets coast to coast, “policy makers as well as university presidents and boards must learn to be better stewards of tuition and taxpayer dollars,” she said. [20] The Delta Cost Project, founded in 2007, is governed by a three-member board and financed in part by the Lumina Foundation. The project says it “focuses on the spending side of the college cost problem, how institutional spending relates to access and success, and ways that costs can be controlled without compromising quality.”


Your So-Called Education By RICHARD ARUM and JOSIPA ROKSA New York Times Week in Review, 2011-05-15 ... Why is the overall quality of undergraduate learning so poor? While some colleges are starved for resources, for many others it’s not for lack of money. Even at those colleges where for the past several decades tuition has far outpaced the rate of inflation,

students are taught by fewer full-time tenured faculty members while being looked after by a greatly expanded number of counselors who serve an array of social and personal needs.

At the same time, many schools are investing [Is that the right word?] in deluxe dormitory rooms, elaborate student centers and expensive gyms. Simply put: academic investments are a lower priority. The situation reflects a larger cultural change in the relationship between students and colleges. The authority of educators has diminished, and students are increasingly thought of, by themselves and their colleges, as “clients” or “consumers.” When 18-year-olds are emboldened to see themselves in this manner, many look for ways to attain an educational credential effortlessly and comfortably. And they are catered to accordingly. The customer is always right. [A question I would ask is: Should those students be in college in the first place?] ...
Will college bubble burst from public subsidies? by Michael Barone Washington Examiner, 2011-07-20 [This is a very good column. Here are some excerpts.] When governments want to encourage what they believe is beneficial behavior, they subsidize it. Sounds like good public policy. But there can be problems. Behavior that is beneficial for most people may not be so for everybody. And government subsidies can go too far. Subsidies create incentives for what economists call rent-seeking behavior. Providers of supposedly beneficial goods or services try to sop up as much of the subsidy money as they can by raising prices. After all, their customers are paying with money supplied by the government. ... Now some people see signs that another bubble is bursting. They call it the higher education bubble. For years government has assumed it's a good thing to go to college. College graduates tend to earn more money than non-college graduates. Politicians of both parties have called for giving everybody a chance to go to college, just as they called for giving everybody a chance to buy a home. So government has been subsidizing higher education with low-interest college loans, Pell Grants and cheap tuitions at state colleges and universities. The predictable result is that higher-education costs have risen much faster than inflation, much faster than personal incomes, much faster than the economy over the past 40 years. ... Take the California State University system, the second tier in that state's public higher education. Between 1975 and 2008 the number of faculty rose by 3 percent, to 12,019 positions. During those same years the number of administrators rose 221 percent, to 12,183. That's right: There are more administrators than teachers at Cal State now. These people get paid to “liaise” and “facilitate” and produce reports on diversity. How that benefits Cal State students or California taxpayers is unclear. ...
A Timeline of College Tuition bestcollegesonline.com, 2011-08-08
Universities Seeking Out Students of Means By TAMAR LEWIN New York Times, 2011-09-21


The College Cartel By Vance H. Fried & Reihan Salam National Review, 2012-03-19 ... It is easy to understand ... frustration with the notion that college is for everyone. It really is true that, as [Rick] Santorum said in Troy, “not all folks are gifted in the same way,” and it seems profoundly unfair to suggest that there is only one way to succeed. But there is a very simple reason that the universal college ideal has emerged:

While Americans with a high-school education or less have seen their labor-market position deteriorate in recent decades, the wage premium for college-educated workers has increased.

Slowly, as Student Debt Rises, Colleges Confront Costs By ANDREW MARTIN New York Times, 2012-05-15
Three Dozen Private-College Presidents Earned Over $1 Million in 2010, Study Finds By TAMAR LEWIN New York Times, 2012-12-10


Harvard Net Tuition Cost Lowest in Ivy League, Reveals College Scorecard By Zohra D. Yaqhubi The Crimson, 2013-02-21
Colleges are headed for a reckoning By Charles Lane Washington Post Opinion, 2013-08-27
Four tough things universities should do to rein in costs by Steven Pearlstein Washington Post, 2015-11-25 [An excellent article. His four suggestions all seem very reasonable and even desirable. Here is the first of them, which I particularly agree with:] What would that change look like? Here are four ideas that seem obvious and reasonable. If a college or university is not moving to embrace them, that’s a pretty good indication that cost-cutting is not a priority.
Cap administrative costs
The best data on college costs comes from the Delta Cost Project, a nonprofit that analyzes data reported to the government. It shows that in the decade prior to 2011, the biggest increase in cost per student at large research universities — the ones that set the competitive norms and that are the focus of this essay — was not in instruction but in administration: student services, institutional support, research and academic support. While faculty critics have made sport of pointing out the proliferation of assistant provosts or the soaring salaries of college presidents, these don’t represent most new spending. What does is the growth in the number and pay of non-teaching professionals in areas such as academic and psychological counseling, security, information technology, fundraising, accreditation and government compliance. Administrators cite government regulations, along with increasingly demanding students and parents, as the causes; no doubt those pressures are real. But judging from the amount of time these professionals spend meeting with each other, I’d wager there is plenty of savings to be had by setting priorities and streamlining structure and decision-making. As management consultants from Bain & Co. wrote in a recent report, “In no other industry would overhead costs be allowed to grow at this rate — executives would lose their jobs.” Here’s a simple rule of thumb: A university should spend more on instruction than it spends on anything else, besides research. ...


A Push to Make Harvard Free Also Questions the Role of Race in Admissions By STEPHANIE SAUL New York Times, 2016-01-15

Should Harvard be free?

That is the provocative question posed by an outsider slate of candidates running for the Board of Overseers at Harvard, which helps set strategy for the university. They say Harvard makes so much money from its $37.6 billion endowment that it should stop charging tuition to undergraduates.

But they have tied the notion to another equally provocative question: Does Harvard shortchange Asian-American applicants in admissions?

The slate of five former students was put together by Ron Unz, a conservative from California and software entrepreneur who sponsored ballots initiatives opposing bilingual education. Although the campaign, “Free Harvard, Fair Harvard,” includes one left-leaning member — the consumer advocate Ralph Nader — Mr. Unz and the other three candidates have written or testified extensively against affirmative action, opposing race-based admissions.

Their positions are in lock step with accusations in a federal lawsuit accusing the university of discriminating against Asian-Americans in admissions. Harvard has denied the allegations.

Coincidence or not, the plaintiffs in that case are seeking from Harvard exactly what the slate of candidates wants: disclosure of data showing how the university’s freshman class is selected each year.


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