We’re number one! (Oops)

FiveThirtyEight has just run a piece on why college tuition has risen so much from 2000 to the present and takes on the question of how much administration and salary and amenity costs have eaten up and found that these are responsible for about a quarter of the rise in tuition.  The rest is because state contributions have dropped dramatically.  Then they list some results by state; they sort by the decrease in tuition support per students and guess who is number one? Yes, us folks in Colorado, having decreased the support to our college students by $7,800 per student.  Tuition has only gone up by $7700, so we have in fact cut back elsewhere to make up the difference [this is all the more impressive, having been here since 1993, in that we were already pretty low in state support prior to 2000].  We are also number one in terms of tuition cost (it is amazing we survive).

Notable about the list is the number of state universities that have done the same thing (kept tuition from rising as much or more than the decrease in state support–percentages above 100% in the righthand column of their table).

It would be nice if there was a bit more clarity in the numbers (the post credits the Department of Education for the tuition numbers and state contributions, but it would be nice to know what institutions are included and how they are weighted). But this might restore a little faith that public universities are trying to be careful with their budgets.

P.S.  There is something of a misleading statement in the piece: “Average salaries for full professors (the highest rank) at top public institutions exceed $160,000 annually.” Follow the link and dig and you’ll find that these are the average salaries at the 10 public institutions with, ahem, the highest salaries, five of which are UC schools. When GG read “top public institutions” he thought they might mean by some ranking of scholarship or academic success, not tops in paying professors, which is strongly influenced by the cost of living in the area of the university. None of these schools would break the top 10 average salaries for private universities. So you could look at this and say that the average salary of full professors at even the highest-paying public universities is far below that paid to full professors at equivalent private schools.

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