It’s sad that colleges, especially flagships, are balancing budgets on the backs of students—and out-of-state students have particularly sturdy backs. But instead of courting those students who pay higher tuitions, colleges could better serve in-state students and taxpayers by cutting back on excessive costs.
Bloated administrative budgets, unnecessary building projects and duplicative, niche courses all contribute to tuition increases. In fact, administrative spending grew faster than instructional spending at 29 of the top 52 public institutions during the Great Recession. But colleges cannot ensure they remain fiscally solvent merely by enticing students from out of state and abroad. For colleges to serve their public mission, they must take a thoughtful look at their finances and priorities.