In the modern world, it’s not just “moths and rust” that destroy value, but also inflation. Yet in modern America, the prices of some things have risen far faster than everything else. Housing, health care, and higher education have all seen rapid cost increases. At least houses have gotten bigger and more luxurious, and health care today offers a lot more than it could fifty years ago. But higher education?
What goes on in colleges and universities has not fundamentally changed. And technology ought to bring lower costs to at least some parts of higher education. Yet tuition and fees keep climbing. What’s going on?
The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs has assembled the data for all of our state’s public colleges and universities, looking at both revenue and expenditures. One claim made by some officials is that they only raise tuition because the state legislature has cut state direct subsidies to higher education. Our research shows that is false: even when state subsidies go up, many schools have still increased costs to students. What seems to be happening in many institutions is a relentless increase in expenditures, even when the number of students is flat or declining.
But you don’t need to take our word for it: Find a school below and view data on its spending and revenue since the year 2000. (All data adjusted for inflation based on CPI.)