Trustees | Costs

How Colleges Spend Money Tutorial (August 26)

  • Date

    August 26, 2020

  • Time

    3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

  • Location



University trustees will face an unprecedented task in the coming months. Notwithstanding the complicated question of how and when to safely open campuses, there are the very real economic implications of today’s global health crisis on America’s institutions of higher education.

Earlier this year, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded its outlook for the higher education sector to “negative,” citing “unprecedented enrollment uncertainty” as a key concern.  All of this overlays an already fragile financial climate. An eye-opening survey earlier this year indicated that a plurality of college trustees identified the financial sustainability of higher education institutions as their top concern for the sector and over 40% of trustees at public institutions expressed the greatest worry over fiscal solvency. These findings present additional concerns in light of the unpredictable global health crisis where financial viability and cost effectiveness must now be forefront of many institutions’ agenda.

In 2019, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) launched, a dynamic, user-friendly website that features unique analytic tools which enable university trustees to benchmark their institutions’ spending patterns against those of their peers and other institutions. We are pleased to announce that we recently updated the website to include newly released data from the U.S. Department of Education.

The site now features the latest provisional spending data currently available and an updated methodology aligned to best practices in higher education finance. The site allows users to produce customized charts of key data on their schools’ administrative versus instructional expenditures, fiscal priorities, and financial health. This valuable tool will enable you with the resources you need to conduct an independent analysis of your institution’s finances and ensure that resources are allocated appropriately and with the utmost prudence to preserve academic excellence.


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Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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