Demanding Openness about UVa’s Cost Structure

by James A. Bacon

Last week the University of Virginia Board of Visitors held a workshop to discuss next year’s increase in tuition, fees, and other charges and to hear input from the public — mostly students begging the board for relief from the ever-escalating cost of attendance.

A PowerPoint presentation released at the meeting essentially made the case for hiking tuition again, although the exact percentage will depend upon the level of financial support provided by the Commonwealth. The estimated increase for undergraduate, in-state tuition will range between 0% and 3.1%. Additional fees are set at $114.

The presentation reflects the Ryan administration’s spin on the numbers. It’s the job of the Board of Visitors to probe deeper. In this post, I will first summarize the administration’s stats, and then I will provide some numbers that the board should consider as it ponders the tuition increases.

“Tuition is last resort,” states a slide expressing UVa’s tuition philosophy. “[We first] look to other revenues and savings.”

We’ll see about that.

In one slide in the presentation, the Ryan team makes four broad claims about the “changing relationship between state appropriation and tuition in funding educational costs (2020):

  • Responsibility for funding educational costs has shifted from the taxpayer to the student.
  • Over 30 years, the combined investment from student and state is less than 1990-91 (inflation-adjusted).
  • Increases in tuition have not kept pace with the decline in general funds, leaving a gap of $3,648 per student in 2020-2021.
  • Differential tuition, and increases in out-of-state tuition, endowment return, and philanthropy have been critical to maintain excellence.

In another slide, the administration provides this graphic that shows how tuition and state funds are spent:

And in a third slide, the administration summarizes 2021-22 “operating challenges and opportunities.”

What does a base undergraduate tuition increase generate (net)?

  • 1.0%: $3.2M
  • 3.1%: $9.9M

What cost increases are we facing?

  • 3.0% merit increase for all Faculty/Staff: $33.1M
  • 3.5% merit increase for all Faculty/Staff: $38.6M
  • Utilities increases

Estimated Incremental COVID Response Expenses

  •  $142M of costs and lost revenues in FY21; of that, $55M expended for remote instruction/work, testing, quarantine/isolation, PPE, etc.
  • Anticipate additional COVID related costs into FY2022
  • Relying on Federal relief, hiring and comp freezes, departmental budget reductions, and other onetime sources to cover these expenses

If I served on the Board of Visitors (fat chance!), my reaction would be, “Thank you very much, but I find these numbers almost worthless for understanding the forces pushing tuition and fees higher. Indeed, it strikes me that you are deliberately obscuring what’s going on.”

The first tip-off should be the administration’s selection of a 30-year time scale for purposes of comparison. Why 30 years? What about the past five years? Is the Ryan administration really blaming cost increases of the last few years upon funding shortfalls of 20 to 30 years ago?

The second tip-off is the lack of long-term spending data. If tuition and state support has failed to keep up with spending, the problem may not be meager increases in tuition and state support but runaway spending. Let’s take a look at some less-ancient numbers extracted from UVa annual reports, comparing FY 2015 and FY 2020. (These numbers include the College at Wise and exclude the UVa health system.)

The first thing we observe is that spending on operational costs increased 37.3% — far outpacing the 10.9% increase in the consumer price index over the same period. Right off the bat, spending looks like the No. 1 culprit.

Although the General Assembly did cut state appropriations after the 2007-2008 recession, over the past five years the legislature has increased state support by $39.8 million, or 26%. There is no reasonable way that President Ryan can blame a shortfall in state appropriations during his time in office. The percentage increase in state appropriations, by the way, was almost identical to the 26.2% increase in tuition and fees over the same period. Perhaps there were valid excuses for jacking up tuition & fees a decade ago, but it’s hard to see the justification now.

If we look at the source of spending increases, we see that it overwhelmingly comes from increased compensation. Compensation accounts for 70% of the increase over the five-year period. A significant contributor likely was UVa’s decision to boost the minimum wage to a “living wage” of $15 per hour, a boost that benefited thousands of employees. If that’s the case, why doesn’t the UVa administration honestly ascribe the cost pressure to implementing the living wage rather than blame it on state funding shortfalls?

The PowerPoint suggests that compensation will be a big cost driver next year. Providing a 3.5% “merit” raise for “all faculty/staff” would cost $38.6 million. My question as a board member would be this: Since when is a “merit” raise granted to “all” employees? That sounds like a general raise — well in excess of inflation. If it’s not a general raise, can we infer that the raise will be distributed unequally according to criteria of merit? In other words, will some people get bigger pay raises than others? What is the maximum merit raise?

As for that dollar-sign graphic showing where the money goes, I would dig deeper. The graphic indicates that only 5% of academic dollars goes to “general administration.” That sounds reasonable on the face of it. But what’s included in “general administration”? Read closely, and you’ll find that it excludes such non-instructional costs as admissions, financial services, and the dean of students office. It also excludes IT (academic technology), student advising, and “other” academic support. It may or may not include administrative employees at the departmental level.

Here are some other things we don’t know from this presentation:

  • Has total administrative overhead (not just “general administration”) increased or declined in recent years?
  • What are the compensation trends for the administrative elite? How many “staff” make more than $500,000 a year?
  • Has faculty and departmental productivity improved or declined, as measured by the number of courses taught, students taught, and degrees completed? More specifically, has the productivity of the most highly compensated faculty members improved or declined?
  • Has mission creep — the additional of responsibilities unrelated to the primary mission of educating students — added to costs?
  • What subsidies and cross-subsidies exist within the system? Does outside research subsidize general education, or does general education subsidize outside research?
  • Of every dollar expended at UVa, 8.5 cents goes to financial support for graduate teaching assistants. Is that up or down from five years ago? How many courses are they teaching?
  • Why have “supplies and outside services” increased 20%, nearly twice the rate of inflation?

If a third-year Commerce School student accepted the UVa administration’s numbers at face value in a business case analysis, he’d flunk the class. We expect the Board of Visitors to do better. Demand the data, and then provide it to students, families, taxpayers, alumni and the general public to digest.


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80 responses to “Demanding Openness about UVa’s Cost Structure”

  1. This is a good question: “Has faculty and departmental productivity improved or declined, as measured by the number of courses taught, students taught, and degrees completed? More specifically, has the productivity of the most highly compensated faculty members improved or declined?”

    BUT……
    What about: “What metrics are used to determine productivity and success/failure for all SUPPORT STAFF positions? Or at least by individual offices?” Have they been met, exceeded, missed?”

  2. This is a good question: “Has faculty and departmental productivity improved or declined, as measured by the number of courses taught, students taught, and degrees completed? More specifically, has the productivity of the most highly compensated faculty members improved or declined?”

    BUT……
    What about: “What metrics are used to determine productivity and success/failure for all SUPPORT STAFF positions? Or at least by individual offices?” Have they been met, exceeded, missed?”

  3. djrippert Avatar

    Maybe Ryan and the Board of Visitors need plan a road trip to West Lafayette, Indiana. They can visit Purdue University and ask the president of that university, former Republican governor of Indiana – Mitch Daniels, for advice on freezing tuition increases.

    https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2020/Q4/purdue-announces-10th-straight-year-of-flat-tuition.html

  4. djrippert Avatar

    Maybe Ryan and the Board of Visitors need plan a road trip to West Lafayette, Indiana. They can visit Purdue University and ask the president of that university, former Republican governor of Indiana – Mitch Daniels, for advice on freezing tuition increases.

    https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2020/Q4/purdue-announces-10th-straight-year-of-flat-tuition.html

  5. djrippert Avatar

    “If a second-year Commerce School student accepted the UVa administration’s numbers at face value in a business case analysis, he’d flunk the class.”

    The Commerce Schools is a two year program attended by third and fourth year UVa students. After being accepted at UVa you apply during your second year and generally start attending the McIntire School of Commerce your third year. Even after being accepted to UVa only about 60% of the applicants to the McIntire school are accepted. However, I am told that those who are not accepted to McIntire now receive a participation award as consolation.

    Beyond that minor point, you would definitely fail a finance or managerial accounting class if you accepted the UVa clap-trap of a budget at face value.

    Disgraceful lack of transparancy.

    1. Haha! Thanks for the catch. I changed it to third-year Commerce School student.

  6. djrippert Avatar

    “If a second-year Commerce School student accepted the UVa administration’s numbers at face value in a business case analysis, he’d flunk the class.”

    The Commerce Schools is a two year program attended by third and fourth year UVa students. After being accepted at UVa you apply during your second year and generally start attending the McIntire School of Commerce your third year. Even after being accepted to UVa only about 60% of the applicants to the McIntire school are accepted. However, I am told that those who are not accepted to McIntire now receive a participation award as consolation.

    Beyond that minor point, you would definitely fail a finance or managerial accounting class if you accepted the UVa clap-trap of a budget at face value.

    Disgraceful lack of transparancy.

    1. Haha! Thanks for the catch. I changed it to third-year Commerce School student.

  7. Lawrence Hincker Avatar
    Lawrence Hincker

    Jim,

    You say, “The first thing we observe is that spending on operational costs increased 37.3% — far outpacing the 10.9% increase in the consumer price index over the same period. Right off the bat, spending looks like the No. 1 culprit.”

    Yes, spending increased but look at where revenue increased….mostly for grants and contracts. That’s research. By design, when a school increases the research portfolio, it will hire additional research assistants, grad students, and incur additional associated costs such as equipment or leased space. That’s a good thing. Most importantly, it doesn’t affect tuition. Those monies are not commingled.

    The problem here is observing income and expenses at too high a level. It’s like looking at a consolidated P&L in a conglomerate without ability to drill down to independent companies or subsidiaries. I’ve never liked this approach often seen in higher ed.

    From my observations at Virginia Tech, research generally subsidizes the education component. It often purchases equipment that can also be used for instruction, it affords subsidizes graduate education by offsetting a student’s tuition.

    With those qualifiers, the annual increases, like clockwork, at state colleges and universities still amazes me. The only time I ever saw budgets get squeezed was during a recession.

    1. Mr. Hincker wrote:

      “Yes, spending increased but look at where revenue increased….mostly for grants and contracts. That’s research. By design, when a school increases the research portfolio, it will hire additional research assistants, grad students, and incur additional associated costs such as equipment or leased space. That’s a good thing. Most importantly, it doesn’t affect tuition. Those monies are not commingled.”

      First, revenue increased more from Tuition and Fees ($128M) than from increases in grants and contracts ($111M). Second, I disagree with your assertion that research and tuition are not commingled and therefore cannot affect tuition. Tuition can flow to support research. The passage below (caps added) is taken from page 75 of a Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) report http://jlarc.virginia.gov/pdfs/reports/Rpt450.pdf :

      “While institutions receive large amounts of funding for research from external sponsors, institutions fund over one-fifth of research activity. Sponsored research results in unfunded costs to institutions in the form of required cost sharing and indirect facilities and administrative costs. Institutions also conduct research activity that is not externally funded. In FY 2011, research institutions covered nearly $300 million in research costs from a variety of institutional sources, INCLUDING TUITION AND FEES.”

      At the time of this report, Virginia Tech was providing $114M a year in institutional funding for research. The amount has gone up since then. How much of that is coming from tuition and fees? The institutions don’t make it easy to find out, to Jim’s point, and they certainly are not up front about it.

  8. Lawrence Hincker Avatar
    Lawrence Hincker

    Jim,

    You say, “The first thing we observe is that spending on operational costs increased 37.3% — far outpacing the 10.9% increase in the consumer price index over the same period. Right off the bat, spending looks like the No. 1 culprit.”

    Yes, spending increased but look at where revenue increased….mostly for grants and contracts. That’s research. By design, when a school increases the research portfolio, it will hire additional research assistants, grad students, and incur additional associated costs such as equipment or leased space. That’s a good thing. Most importantly, it doesn’t affect tuition. Those monies are not commingled.

    The problem here is observing income and expenses at too high a level. It’s like looking at a consolidated P&L in a conglomerate without ability to drill down to independent companies or subsidiaries. I’ve never liked this approach often seen in higher ed.

    From my observations at Virginia Tech, research generally subsidizes the education component. It often purchases equipment that can also be used for instruction, it affords subsidizes graduate education by offsetting a student’s tuition.

    With those qualifiers, the annual increases, like clockwork, at state colleges and universities still amazes me. The only time I ever saw budgets get squeezed was during a recession.

    1. Mr. Hincker wrote:

      “Yes, spending increased but look at where revenue increased….mostly for grants and contracts. That’s research. By design, when a school increases the research portfolio, it will hire additional research assistants, grad students, and incur additional associated costs such as equipment or leased space. That’s a good thing. Most importantly, it doesn’t affect tuition. Those monies are not commingled.”

      First, revenue increased more from Tuition and Fees ($128M) than from increases in grants and contracts ($111M). Second, I disagree with your assertion that research and tuition are not commingled and therefore cannot affect tuition. Tuition can flow to support research. The passage below (caps added) is taken from page 75 of a Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) report http://jlarc.virginia.gov/pdfs/reports/Rpt450.pdf :

      “While institutions receive large amounts of funding for research from external sponsors, institutions fund over one-fifth of research activity. Sponsored research results in unfunded costs to institutions in the form of required cost sharing and indirect facilities and administrative costs. Institutions also conduct research activity that is not externally funded. In FY 2011, research institutions covered nearly $300 million in research costs from a variety of institutional sources, INCLUDING TUITION AND FEES.”

      At the time of this report, Virginia Tech was providing $114M a year in institutional funding for research. The amount has gone up since then. How much of that is coming from tuition and fees? The institutions don’t make it easy to find out, to Jim’s point, and they certainly are not up front about it.

  9. Nancy_Naive Avatar
    Nancy_Naive

    GREAT PHOTO! Was it film?

  10. Nancy_Naive Avatar
    Nancy_Naive

    GREAT PHOTO! Was it film?

  11. What does UVA do with their slightly-less-than $10 billion endowment?

    1. Most of the $10 billion endowment is restricted by the wishes of the donors.

      There is one big exception — the Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) of more than $1 billion, cobbled together from various reserves and operating funds. That should throw off more than $50 million a year. Where does that money go? I’m sure UVa reports the expenditures, but the information has not been disseminated broadly to the public.

      1. Probably 30% or more of the $10B or so endowment cited would not have originated from donors. It would have come from surpluses from operations, and is often held in quasi-endowments to support continued operations of the medical center, for instance. The SIF probably originates from quasi-endowments repurposed away from their original generator (e.g. medical center operations). You are probably right that 80% or more of the rest belongs to schools and programs as per the terms of the donations (e.g. to the Law School).

    2. Nancy_Naive Avatar
      Nancy_Naive

      Live off the earnings. 4.5% in perpetual.

  12. What does UVA do with their slightly-less-than $10 billion endowment?

    1. Most of the $10 billion endowment is restricted by the wishes of the donors.

      There is one big exception — the Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) of more than $1 billion, cobbled together from various reserves and operating funds. That should throw off more than $50 million a year. Where does that money go? I’m sure UVa reports the expenditures, but the information has not been disseminated broadly to the public.

      1. Probably 30% or more of the $10B or so endowment cited would not have originated from donors. It would have come from surpluses from operations, and is often held in quasi-endowments to support continued operations of the medical center, for instance. The SIF probably originates from quasi-endowments repurposed away from their original generator (e.g. medical center operations). You are probably right that 80% or more of the rest belongs to schools and programs as per the terms of the donations (e.g. to the Law School).

    2. Nancy_Naive Avatar
      Nancy_Naive

      Live off the earnings. 4.5% in perpetual.

  13. LarrytheG Avatar

    “We’re not exactly, positively sure what precisely UVA is doing wrong but we’re pretty sure they are because there’s a bunch of money involved and they’re sneaky”.

    From: The nevending lament of suspicious conservatives

    😉

    1. Larry, UVA is not a private business (and even private businesses must comply with a variety of reporting standards). UVA gets nearly $200M a year in operations funding from the state, and likely another $100M or so a year from the state for capital funding. On top of that, they get the valuable benefit of operating as a non-profit, and they receive federal and state grants for research. We know the U.S. has the most expensive higher education system in the world and its costs have outstripped inflation by a factor of 3X for the past 40 years. What is your problem with scrutiny?

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Nothing. I LIKE IT. I just got this today:

        Second Quarter 2021QUARTERLY REPORT SUMMARY – OCTOBER 1, 2020, TO DECEMBER 31, 2020Audit ActivitiesThe Summary of Reports Higher Education ReportsUniversity of Virginia

        http://www.apa.virginia.gov/reports/UniversityofVirginia2020.pdf

        but Blog Rants about costs don’t even make a dent especially when the bigger problem is people willing to go into such levels of debt to hobble them for much of their life.

        And Jim and others swear they’re not advocating the Government do something about it – but they essentially do, justifying it because the govt helps fund them..

        Take away the govt funding , what happens?

        Better idea, take away the easy loans and dry up the clueless pay-anything for a degree customer demand.

        1. I have not called for government to “do something about it” other than to bring more transparency to the system. I have always warned against legislative micro-managing of higher-ed. I have always supported a decentralized higher-ed system. I have always said the boards of visitors>/i> should do their fiduciary duty and do the oversight they were appointed to do.

          Oh, and I have always said that the indiscriminate federal lending to students is a big part of the problem.

          Other than that, Larry, you got it right. Don’t you ever get tired of misquoting people?

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            Jim. You are careful with your words. I’ll give you that. But you come right up to the edge and really, no matter how much “transparency” there is, it will not, in and of itself, motivate UVA (or others to change) unless that “transparency” results in an uprising that will then demand that something be done – that “something” being government action.

            And who do you expect to mandate more transparency, the government?

            Both JLARC and the Auditor of Public Accounts do regular industry standard audits of UVA and Higher Ed but they do not provide the level of “transparency” you desire.

            More “transparency” won’t really change much, unless you expect it to generate demands by others for the govt to “do something”.

        2. Nancy_Naive Avatar
          Nancy_Naive

          Driven from the Garden of State Funding Delights with a “Go forth and prosper,” UVa has, which really pissed off the Republican gods in their hope of another State created failure.

          Oops.

          1. UVA get more money per student from the state than any schools other than Virginia State and Norfolk State. Hard to see how it has been driven from the “Garden of State Funding Delights”.

          2. Nancy_Naive Avatar
            Nancy_Naive

            Because Izzo, it’s chump change compared to the total operational costs, and a nit compared to what it used to be. UVa could cover the State money out of pocket.

            If one school has twice the faculty of another then, since payroll is State money, it stands to reason it will get more State money.

            UVa gets about 6% from the State.

          3. Chump change? I don’t think so. Covering the $300M+ or so state provided benefit per year, including $200M unrestricted general fund revenue, would require an additional unrestricted endowment of about $7B using your 4.5% payout. UVA has nothing approaching that. The part of UVA’s endowment that is unrestricted is probably less than $2B, so this would require a massive increase. Most donations go to restricted uses like to Darden, athletics, or UVA Law. Sources like federal research grants could not replace tuition because they are restricted to purpose. So replacing the $300M in revenue would require tuition increases, and almost all of that would fall on undergraduates because out-of-state is already at private school levels, as is tuition from programs like law, business, and medicine.
            So tuition and fees would have to rise to near-Duke levels to maintain a similar level funding. You are mistaken if you think that would not have an impact.

            But beyond that, you are obscuring the point that UVA does in fact get more from the state on a per capita basis than all schools other than Norfolk State and Virginia State. As such they should certainly face scrutiny just like any other state organization. There seems to be a perception that UVA does not receive money from the state after the Restructuring agreement. That is not the case. They kind of got to keep their cake and eat it too with that arrangement. A school like JMU receives only about 55% as much per student as UVA does.

    2. Nancy_Naive Avatar
      Nancy_Naive

      UVa is their worst nightmare, a virtually private university with a tenured State-employee faculty — in their view, the epitome of liberal elitism.

      They cannot be controlled with a phone call from Cancun.

      1. Perhaps the “virtually private university” should become a literal private university.

        It’s “tenured state-employee faculty” could be offered a choice between remaining “tenured state-employee faculty” at a different public university, or halting contributions to their VRS account and becoming an employee of a private university, with whatever benefits that entails.

        As you note elsewhere on this thread, UVA does not need the taxpayer funding it receives each year, so the move will not hurt their annual budget.

        There is the matter of the publicly-owned land upon which the sacred “Grounds” lie, but I’m sure we could come up with some kind of 50-year lease-to-purchase agreement with the newly formed, privately-funded university. I’ll bet they’d even be willing to spend some of that endowment money if it meant being free from state-government and citizen scrutiny.

        1. Nancy_Naive Avatar
          Nancy_Naive

          Lewis Powell

          1. The guy who tried to kill William Seward as part of the Lincoln assassination plot?

            What’s he got to do with UVA?

    3. Larry,

      Why do you try to make EVERYTHING an issue of “conservatives” versus “progressives”?

      Don’t you want to know why tuition at PUBLIC universities has grown at a rate several times that of inflation? Don’t you care what they are doing with your tax dollars?

      Actually, I think you do want to know and you do care. Why, then, would you hurl a sardonic insult at those who are demanding financial transparency from “The University”? Is questioning the finances of large corporate-like entities the sole purview of “progressives?

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        I don’t. Take a look at the narratives that use words like “elites” and “leftists” …etc… I just follow along.

        I DO care about tuition at public universities but UVA and other brand names are selling a product for which there is a strong demand AND a government willing to provide loans to pay whatever it costs.

        Way more involved than just higher ed ripping folks off. I agree it’s rampant and widespread but calls for more “transparency” are silly unless you admit you want govt to force it and/or get involved in tuition which is how some states actually have forced higher ed to provide basic college for no-frills tuition. It’s an option that many do not want – they want the full on-campus experience.. the dorms, the dining hall, the sports…etc…

        The deal with College affordability is to ALSO acknowledge it is a produce, often a brand and in demand and calls for more “transparency” really a proxy for generating enough sentiment for the public to demand the government rein it in.

        I go as far as supporting a mandate to provide a bare-bones price for those willing to give up all the on-campus bennies that full-boat folks get – and most will pay for but I’d no more support govt getting more involved in pricing than I would for cars or homes or milk or gasoline for that matter.

        It’s really a kind of market. There ARE good colleges that offer lower costs – you can find them here:

        https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/

        Oh – and that’s government also! 😉

        1. “…but I’d no more support govt getting more involved in pricing than I would for cars or homes or milk or gasoline for that matter.”

          I agree 100% where private schools are concerned. When my tax dollars are being spent to support a university system, though, I’d like my kid to be able to afford to avail himself of that public university system without having to mortgage his future for the next 30 years.

          Private business = Charge whatever the market will bear.
          Publicly funded “business” = Government [public] oversight and controls are justified and necessary.

          It is nice to hear that you are a free-market capitalist who opposes price-controls of any kind, though.

          Finally, if UVA wants to become a private school then I will whole-heartedly support them in their endeavor.

        2. “I don’t. Take a look at the narratives that use words like “elites” and “leftists” …etc… I just follow along.”

          Where? The word “leftist” does not appear anywhere in Mr. Bacon’s article, nor does it appear in any of the comments above yours.

          The word “elite” appears once in the article, in the context of the “administrative elite” (i.e. the highest paid administrators at UVA) and nowhere in the comments above yours.

          Exactly what “narrative” are you referring to? Is it the one you WISH conservatives were presenting?

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            the pattern of anti-UVA blog posts over time here in BR… go look, not hard to find.

  14. LarrytheG Avatar

    “We’re not exactly, positively sure what precisely UVA is doing wrong but we’re pretty sure they are because there’s a bunch of money involved and they’re sneaky”.

    From: The nevending lament of suspicious conservatives

    😉

    1. Larry, UVA is not a private business (and even private businesses must comply with a variety of reporting standards). UVA gets nearly $200M a year in operations funding from the state, and likely another $100M or so a year from the state for capital funding. On top of that, they get the valuable benefit of operating as a non-profit, and they receive federal and state grants for research. We know the U.S. has the most expensive higher education system in the world and its costs have outstripped inflation by a factor of 3X for the past 40 years. What is your problem with scrutiny?

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        Nothing. I LIKE IT. I just got this today:

        Second Quarter 2021QUARTERLY REPORT SUMMARY – OCTOBER 1, 2020, TO DECEMBER 31, 2020Audit ActivitiesThe Summary of Reports Higher Education ReportsUniversity of Virginia

        http://www.apa.virginia.gov/reports/UniversityofVirginia2020.pdf

        but Blog Rants about costs don’t even make a dent especially when the bigger problem is people willing to go into such levels of debt to hobble them for much of their life.

        And Jim and others swear they’re not advocating the Government do something about it – but they essentially do, justifying it because the govt helps fund them..

        Take away the govt funding , what happens?

        Better idea, take away the easy loans and dry up the clueless pay-anything for a degree customer demand.

        1. I have not called for government to “do something about it” other than to bring more transparency to the system. I have always warned against legislative micro-managing of higher-ed. I have always supported a decentralized higher-ed system. I have always said the boards of visitors>/i> should do their fiduciary duty and do the oversight they were appointed to do.

          Oh, and I have always said that the indiscriminate federal lending to students is a big part of the problem.

          Other than that, Larry, you got it right. Don’t you ever get tired of misquoting people?

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            Jim. You are careful with your words. I’ll give you that. But you come right up to the edge and really, no matter how much “transparency” there is, it will not, in and of itself, motivate UVA (or others to change) unless that “transparency” results in an uprising that will then demand that something be done – that “something” being government action.

            And who do you expect to mandate more transparency, the government?

            Both JLARC and the Auditor of Public Accounts do regular industry standard audits of UVA and Higher Ed but they do not provide the level of “transparency” you desire.

            More “transparency” won’t really change much, unless you expect it to generate demands by others for the govt to “do something”.

        2. Nancy_Naive Avatar
          Nancy_Naive

          Driven from the Garden of State Funding Delights with a “Go forth and prosper,” UVa has, which really pissed off the Republican gods in their hope of another State created failure.

          Oops.

          1. UVA get more money per student from the state than any schools other than Virginia State and Norfolk State. Hard to see how it has been driven from the “Garden of State Funding Delights”.

          2. Nancy_Naive Avatar
            Nancy_Naive

            Because Izzo, it’s chump change compared to the total operational costs, and a nit compared to what it used to be. UVa could cover the State money out of pocket.

            If one school has twice the faculty of another then, since payroll is State money, it stands to reason it will get more State money.

            UVa gets about 6% from the State.

          3. Chump change? I don’t think so. Covering the $300M+ or so state provided benefit per year, including $200M unrestricted general fund revenue, would require an additional unrestricted endowment of about $7B using your 4.5% payout. UVA has nothing approaching that. The part of UVA’s endowment that is unrestricted is probably less than $2B, so this would require a massive increase. Most donations go to restricted uses like to Darden, athletics, or UVA Law. Sources like federal research grants could not replace tuition because they are restricted to purpose. So replacing the $300M in revenue would require tuition increases, and almost all of that would fall on undergraduates because out-of-state is already at private school levels, as is tuition from programs like law, business, and medicine.
            So tuition and fees would have to rise to near-Duke levels to maintain a similar level funding. You are mistaken if you think that would not have an impact.

            But beyond that, you are obscuring the point that UVA does in fact get more from the state on a per capita basis than all schools other than Norfolk State and Virginia State. As such they should certainly face scrutiny just like any other state organization. There seems to be a perception that UVA does not receive money from the state after the Restructuring agreement. That is not the case. They kind of got to keep their cake and eat it too with that arrangement. A school like JMU receives only about 55% as much per student as UVA does.

    2. Nancy_Naive Avatar
      Nancy_Naive

      UVa is their worst nightmare, a virtually private university with a tenured State-employee faculty — in their view, the epitome of liberal elitism.

      They cannot be controlled with a phone call from Cancun.

      1. Perhaps the “virtually private university” should become a literal private university.

        It’s “tenured state-employee faculty” could be offered a choice between remaining “tenured state-employee faculty” at a different public university, or halting contributions to their VRS account and becoming an employee of a private university, with whatever benefits that entails.

        As you note elsewhere on this thread, UVA does not need the taxpayer funding it receives each year, so the move will not hurt their annual budget.

        There is the matter of the publicly-owned land upon which the sacred “Grounds” lie, but I’m sure we could come up with some kind of 50-year lease-to-purchase agreement with the newly formed, privately-funded university. I’ll bet they’d even be willing to spend some of that endowment money if it meant being free from state-government and citizen scrutiny.

        1. Nancy_Naive Avatar
          Nancy_Naive

          Lewis Powell

          1. The guy who tried to kill William Seward as part of the Lincoln assassination plot?

            What’s he got to do with UVA?

    3. Larry,

      Why do you try to make EVERYTHING an issue of “conservatives” versus “progressives”?

      Don’t you want to know why tuition at PUBLIC universities has grown at a rate several times that of inflation? Don’t you care what they are doing with your tax dollars?

      Actually, I think you do want to know and you do care. Why, then, would you hurl a sardonic insult at those who are demanding financial transparency from “The University”? Is questioning the finances of large corporate-like entities the sole purview of “progressives?

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        I don’t. Take a look at the narratives that use words like “elites” and “leftists” …etc… I just follow along.

        I DO care about tuition at public universities but UVA and other brand names are selling a product for which there is a strong demand AND a government willing to provide loans to pay whatever it costs.

        Way more involved than just higher ed ripping folks off. I agree it’s rampant and widespread but calls for more “transparency” are silly unless you admit you want govt to force it and/or get involved in tuition which is how some states actually have forced higher ed to provide basic college for no-frills tuition. It’s an option that many do not want – they want the full on-campus experience.. the dorms, the dining hall, the sports…etc…

        The deal with College affordability is to ALSO acknowledge it is a produce, often a brand and in demand and calls for more “transparency” really a proxy for generating enough sentiment for the public to demand the government rein it in.

        I go as far as supporting a mandate to provide a bare-bones price for those willing to give up all the on-campus bennies that full-boat folks get – and most will pay for but I’d no more support govt getting more involved in pricing than I would for cars or homes or milk or gasoline for that matter.

        It’s really a kind of market. There ARE good colleges that offer lower costs – you can find them here:

        https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/

        Oh – and that’s government also! 😉

        1. “I don’t. Take a look at the narratives that use words like “elites” and “leftists” …etc… I just follow along.”

          Where? The word “leftist” does not appear anywhere in Mr. Bacon’s article, nor does it appear in any of the comments above yours.

          The word “elite” appears once in the article, in the context of the “administrative elite” (i.e. the highest paid administrators at UVA) and nowhere in the comments above yours.

          Exactly what “narrative” are you referring to? Is it the one you WISH conservatives were presenting?

          1. LarrytheG Avatar

            the pattern of anti-UVA blog posts over time here in BR… go look, not hard to find.

        2. “…but I’d no more support govt getting more involved in pricing than I would for cars or homes or milk or gasoline for that matter.”

          I agree 100% where private schools are concerned. When my tax dollars are being spent to support a university system, though, I’d like my kid to be able to afford to avail himself of that public university system without having to mortgage his future for the next 30 years.

          Private business = Charge whatever the market will bear.
          Publicly funded “business” = Government [public] oversight and controls are justified and necessary.

          It is nice to hear that you are a free-market capitalist who opposes price-controls of any kind, though.

          Finally, if UVA wants to become a private school then I will whole-heartedly support them in their endeavor.

  15. Administrative bloat. I investigate some of the programs sponsored by one of the schools. It will be some special program within that school, and then it will be in conjunction with a few other schools, and each of those schools will have Deans and Associate Deans for that sub-program. They are far afield from the core educational mission.

  16. Administrative bloat. I investigate some of the programs sponsored by one of the schools. It will be some special program within that school, and then it will be in conjunction with a few other schools, and each of those schools will have Deans and Associate Deans for that sub-program. They are far afield from the core educational mission.

  17. Nancy_Naive Avatar
    Nancy_Naive

    “One of the bewildering paradoxes of our time is the extent to which the enterprise system tolerates, if not participates in, its own destruction.

    The campuses from which much of the criticism emanates are supported by (i) tax funds generated largely from American business, and (ii) contributions from capital funds controlled or generated by American business. The boards of trustees of our universities overwhelmingly are composed of men and women who are leaders in the system.”

    Bawhaaaaa

  18. Nancy_Naive Avatar
    Nancy_Naive

    “One of the bewildering paradoxes of our time is the extent to which the enterprise system tolerates, if not participates in, its own destruction.

    The campuses from which much of the criticism emanates are supported by (i) tax funds generated largely from American business, and (ii) contributions from capital funds controlled or generated by American business. The boards of trustees of our universities overwhelmingly are composed of men and women who are leaders in the system.”

    Bawhaaaaa

  19. LarrytheG Avatar

    Well, UVA is going to do this without raising tuition:

    ” Pending the signature of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, new legislation will require the College of William and Mary to offer some type of tangible benefit to at least one matriculating student who can demonstrate a historical connection to slavery starting during the 2022-23 academic year.

    The Enslaved Ancestors College Access Scholarship and Memorial Program was formally passed by the Virginia Senate on a 22-17 vote the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 22. The legislation compels five public universities in the Commonwealth — Longwood University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Military Institute and the College — to identify and memorialize the enslaved individuals who built these institutions to the fullest extent possible.

    The bill also requires that these universities provide some tangible benefit, such as a tuition scholarship, for individuals or communities within the Commonwealth who can prove a historical connection to slavery. According to the bill, this provision is designed to help individuals and communities who are still experiencing ramifications of slavery to “break out of the cycle of poverty.”

    Longwood, UVA, VCU, VMI and the College have until July 1, 2022 to coordinate and establish guidelines with the State Council of Higher Education for implementing the scholarship program. The bill also strongly encourages all private colleges with similar historical legacies in the state to opt into the program.

    The bill prohibits universities from using state funds or tuition revenue to fund any tangible benefits, meaning that funding will likely have to originate from private sources or institutional endowments.”

    https://flathatnews.com/2021/02/22/virginia-general-assembly-creates-new-scholarship-program-for-descendants-of-enslaved-individuals/

  20. LarrytheG Avatar

    Well, UVA is going to do this without raising tuition:

    ” Pending the signature of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, new legislation will require the College of William and Mary to offer some type of tangible benefit to at least one matriculating student who can demonstrate a historical connection to slavery starting during the 2022-23 academic year.

    The Enslaved Ancestors College Access Scholarship and Memorial Program was formally passed by the Virginia Senate on a 22-17 vote the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 22. The legislation compels five public universities in the Commonwealth — Longwood University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Military Institute and the College — to identify and memorialize the enslaved individuals who built these institutions to the fullest extent possible.

    The bill also requires that these universities provide some tangible benefit, such as a tuition scholarship, for individuals or communities within the Commonwealth who can prove a historical connection to slavery. According to the bill, this provision is designed to help individuals and communities who are still experiencing ramifications of slavery to “break out of the cycle of poverty.”

    Longwood, UVA, VCU, VMI and the College have until July 1, 2022 to coordinate and establish guidelines with the State Council of Higher Education for implementing the scholarship program. The bill also strongly encourages all private colleges with similar historical legacies in the state to opt into the program.

    The bill prohibits universities from using state funds or tuition revenue to fund any tangible benefits, meaning that funding will likely have to originate from private sources or institutional endowments.”

    https://flathatnews.com/2021/02/22/virginia-general-assembly-creates-new-scholarship-program-for-descendants-of-enslaved-individuals/

  21. LarrytheG Avatar

    yes… at least one….. 😉

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar
      Nancy_Naive

      Ah, life’s experiences have shown that if you propose, “The least you can do is…” then expect no more.

      It is a ceiling, not a floor.

      Under learned something new, I always thought Longwood was one of the 1908 schools. Hmmm.

      1. Longwood was originally founded in 1839 as the Farmville Female Seminary Institute, or some such.

    2. So, then, one…

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar
        Nancy_Naive

        Eye. Uh, aye.

    3. I thought it was one for each documented slave. I may need to read it, though.

  22. LarrytheG Avatar

    yes… at least one….. 😉

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar
      Nancy_Naive

      Ah, life’s experiences have shown that if you propose, “The least you can do is…” then expect no more.

      It is a ceiling, not a floor.

      Under learned something new, I always thought Longwood was one of the 1908 schools. Hmmm.

      1. Longwood was originally founded in 1839 as the Farmville Female Seminary Institute, or some such.

    2. So, then, one…

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar
        Nancy_Naive

        Eye. Uh, aye.

    3. I thought it was one for each documented slave. I may need to read it, though.

  23. LarrytheG Avatar

    So, I DO support government getting involved but not to directly restrict prices across the board. Since money does come from Virginia taxpayers, I would favor some of it to go directly to students as means-tested vouchers for tuition/fees that the state-supported Colleges must accept as a condition of getting state aid.

    All the other stuff, room, board, sports, would be between the student and the college. Many students can and do live off campus as a way to save money already.

  24. LarrytheG Avatar

    So, I DO support government getting involved but not to directly restrict prices across the board. Since money does come from Virginia taxpayers, I would favor some of it to go directly to students as means-tested vouchers for tuition/fees that the state-supported Colleges must accept as a condition of getting state aid.

    All the other stuff, room, board, sports, would be between the student and the college. Many students can and do live off campus as a way to save money already.

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