Student support a major driver of institutional spending
- An analysis of per-student spending by colleges and universities reveals dramatic increases in the amount of money directed to student support over the last 25 years, but research spending has the highest collective increase among public and private four-year schools, with a 66% increase since 1987.
- Spending on academic support, institutional support and student services at public institutions have all increased by at least 37%, and by at least 48% at private schools.
- Operations and physical plant funding has only increased by 10% between the two institutional types over the same period.
The numbers reflect a unique story in higher education, given the comprehensive narrative about the rising costs in the industry and how much it has negatively impacted the quality of education. While the raw numbers vary from state to state and from institution, the hypothesis is that students who are entering and paying for college are receiving the lion's share of resources dedicated to their success.
College leaders should be commended for prioritizing student outcomes, and from a public relations perspective, do more to share the story and the results of what this funding prioritization looks like. This would go a long way in convincing the general public about the value of education, and helping to lobby for additional or restorative public funding.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Trends in expenditures by US colleges and universities, 1987-2013