August 5, 2012
College Costs Too Much Because Faculty Lack Power
By Robert E. Martin

Surveys reveal that the public believes a college education is essential but too expensive. People feel squeezed between the cost and the necessity. At the same time, public colleges complain that they are being squeezed by declining state support and increasing pressure to educate larger numbers of less-prepared students.

Yet society has provided higher education with a river of new real revenues over the past several decades. Since nonprofit institutions of higher education follow a balanced-budget model, expenditures are capped by revenues. Therefore the real cost per student cannot increase without a corresponding increase in real revenues. So the problem has not been too little revenue.

Nevertheless, college affordability has declined. So the crucial question is: Where was all that new money spent?

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