The Forum | Costs

Quick Take: Hidden College Fees, Hidden College Bloat

December 1, 2016 by Armand B. Alacbay

In “Those Hidden College Fees,” Rochelle Sharpe correctly observes that the underlying reasons for the rising costs of college are not immediately clear to students and families, since institutions can easily divert funds from their original purpose. That points to another fundamental challenge to college affordability: the growth in administrative spending. A recent analysis by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni of federal data for over 1,100 colleges and universities found that, over a five year period, more than 200 schools had inflation-adjusted increases of at least 20% in expenditure on administration that outpaced the increase in instructional spending over the same time period.  Governing boards—whose trustees have a fiduciary duty to the public—must be painstaking in their oversight and diligent in asking the right questions to ensure that their institution’s administrative spending is in keeping with its academic mission rather than an expansion and remuneration of the bureaucracy for its own sake.


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