Chart of the Day: Whom to Blame for Tuition Increases?

Statewide tuition increases at Virginia public universities, FY 1998 to FY 2012. Image credit: JLARC

Statewide tuition increases at Virginia public universities, adjusted for inflation, FY 1998 to FY 2012. Image credit: JLARC

At last, an answer to a question that I have frequently posed on this blog: To what extent can tuition increases at Virginia public universities be blamed on a decline in state support for higher education? According to a new analysis by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC): about 68%.

The decline in state support doe not account, however, for the surge in student fees, which cover athletics and ancillary programs, or room and board. How much did declining state support account for the total cost of a residential college education? JLARC didn’t ask that question, but a reasonable estimate is about half.

Bacon’s bottom line: Colleges and universities have a legitimate point when they blame the escalating cost of higher education on lower state support. But they also should shoulder as much of the blame themselves, something they have been exceedingly reluctant to do.

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3 responses to “Chart of the Day: Whom to Blame for Tuition Increases?

  1. Between Peter’s excellent prior post and the two from Jim – I am a cynic.

    I think higher ed tries to get as much as it can out of the State they compare what the going rate is with their competitors and tack on the difference to the student fees.

    It’s become a business, one with a unique business model – but unlike most state agencies that have defined missions – Higher Ed can turn virtually anything in “education” and spectacularly successful with sports which have now evolved into de-facto “brands” much like Del Monte or Tide.

    and why not – if their “customers” are more like payday-loan customers than penny-counting frugals.

    We blather on about what is wrong with Higher Ed – but the people who run higher ED – KNOW what their business IS no matter what the pundits think.

  2. Jim, Peter, Larry- others: As a parent with a child three years out from college, I read this series of articles, and the JLARC report with a sense of dread. My wife and I have run the numbers for Virginia institutes of higher education, and between scholarships, grants, some loans, and us putting in a lot of money, we can afford to stay in state. But, with these types of tuition and fee hikes, I am not sure that will be a true statement in three years, when our son starts college. And will we be able to afford to keep our son in an in-state institution six and seven years from now, when the cost will be even higher?

    To be a heretic, I would rather Va Tech, UVA, and even George Mason spend less on athletics then they are currently doing. After all, when my son graduates, he has to “sell” the quality of his education to an employer. In my experience, not too many companies hire folks because their alma mater basketball team made it to the round of 16 in an NCAA tournament.

    But it is not just sports. The student counselor at our son’s school talks up the new buildings going up around the state, but does not have an answer to my question, “how will this new dinner facility, or this new multi-purpose center, improve the quality of education of my son?”

    My two cents worth, from a parent staring at these higher tuition costs, and worrying about helping our son pay for them.

    • I think there are quite a few good colleges in Va that are not “brand” name.

      the question is – what do you want ? seriously?

      you son can get a GOOD college education without paying brand-name prices.

      http://www.collegecalc.org/lists/virginia/most-affordable-in-state-tuition/

      and there are no laws that say a kid can’t work their way through college – either. I read somewhere that Joe Biden went to college in the evening after his day job.

      I myself went to college at night after my day job. Did not get home until 10 pm every night and was back in the car headed to work at 6am every morning

      I just tend to think it’s not just college that many people want….

      am I wrong?

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