Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Hidden Cost of College...

or WHY is it so expensive?

Christie Garton @UniversityChic

...while commentators and parents spent a great deal of time bemoaning the situation, they failed to mention that while the majority of schools and universities were raising tuition (while implementing classroom furloughs and early retirement packages for professors), some weren't cutting the fat where it counted***: in administrative salaries, unnecessary construction projects, and pricey bureaucratic systems that don't elevate the level of learning and resources available even when tuition costs outpace that of the average American salary.

The same question holds true for those within the top-tier of said schools. When The Wall Street Journal published an article last November listing the highest paid college presidents in the country, eyebrows were raised when it became clear the majority were making well over six figures a year (some, like Yale's Richard Levin were almost at the million dollar mark). Adding salt to the wound was the fact that many of these same colleges and universities raised their tuition in 2009 to cover their operational costs.

Isn't it time we shifted our focus away from HOW to pay for college and instead started to probe WHY it costs so much to begin with? Should we wait until our educational system faces the same financial collapse and ruin as Wall Street before we start asking serious questions and demand a system of checks and balances be put into place?

After all, it's not just the actual cost of college we should be worried about -- it's the hidden cost nobody wants to talk about that may end up hurting future generations of students to come.

***For specific examples of this kind of behavior at the University of Minnesota, please see the excellent earlier analysis by Michael McNabb, a lawyer and fellow U of M alum:

See also earlier posts on unnecessary Northrop renovation expenses:

And foolish spending on new biomedical research buildings:



philosoraptor said...

Yes, but... where can an interested person go to get some basic knowledge of the context, in order to be an informed participant in that conversation? Which books/articles/people do you recommend?

Mr. B. said...


I'm not sure exactly when you commented. I have added an introductory reference that is relevant to the situation at Minnesota. If you want more, please let me know.