The Reason for the price of tuition

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by 12dylan34, Oct 25, 2012.

  1. 12dylan34 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    So, I'm a student at a major state university and it has become very apparent to me the wastefulness that has undoubtedly resulted in my exorbitantly high and ever-increasing tuition. This issue extends to probably most other public colleges as well.

    Here are just some observations:

    • Probably a total of about 15 totally unnecessary small construction projects going on around campus. Most of them involve demolishing nicely landscaped areas in favor of installing different nicely landscaped areas for no apparent reason.
    • I work in a university facility and the wastefulness is appalling. A $20,000 large format printer just to print 1 or fewer posters per month, buying new keyboards for the computers every 2 months for no reason, etc.
    • Worker salaries. The university released a list of employee salaries and they're ridiculous. The professors, yes, but even campus police officers get paid around $75,000 per year, which is about $35,000 above a normal base salary for a police officer. It's great for them that they get paid a lot, but they turn around and screw students out of proper pay rates by arguing that they're gaining "experience" so they don't have to be paid very much.
    • Again, the construction. This time, large projects. They tore down a perfectly good large building with a new (like 1990ish) dining center and coffee shop in favor of a new building to take its place.

    I truly believe that my tuition could be reduced by as much as 30% if all or most of this would just stop. State universities are non-profit organizations if I'm not mistaken, so I think it's sort of just a "use it or lose it" mentality with them.

    I don't really know what kind of responses I expect, but I just sort of wanted to make this known.
  2. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

    Mar 10, 2005
    I'm a college professor, and... wait, a school where even the police are paid that much? Really?
  3. vega07 macrumors 65816

    Aug 7, 2006
    I go to one of the most expensive med schools in the country. It hurts bad. And I don't see the returns that I expect out of paying so much.

    My cost of attendance for ungrad per year was 23k. Right now in professional school it's 70k per year with a tuition of 50k. I've come to accept that tuition rises every year just because it can.
  4. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    I'm a staff member of 10+ years at a state college and I won't deny that waste doesn't exist. However, I'm hard-pressed to identify the many "unnecessary" landscaping /construction projects that seem to plague your school, and you'll be happy to know that even as 10-year employee, at the highest level of my job classification, I'm making just $58,000 per year.

    A campus is constantly upgrading in order to better attract and serve its students who partly judge the institution on the quality of the classrooms, labs, housing and dining facilities, recreation and athletic facilities and landscaping. A university has to compete for students and faculty on many levels and the look and feel of a campus can make a difference in attracting and maintaining an adequate number of them.
  5. P-Worm macrumors 68020


    Jul 16, 2002
    Salt Lake City, UT
    I want to know what school you are at, because my experience at the University of Utah is nothing like that. I started my undergrad there in 2003, and now I am finishing up my PhD there. I do see wasteful spending, but not enough that I think my tuition could be a third less.

  6. Sdashiki macrumors 68040


    Aug 11, 2005
    Behind the lens
    Sounds more like a typical complaint of rising tuition costs tempered with poor examples of interpreted "Waste".

    Come on...public universities and colleges barely scrape by in all honesty.

    While perhaps your examples of salaries and "waste" are specific to your location, I fail to see how it is widespread enough to lump all higher education into the same group as the one you describe you are currently finding yourself in.

    I suppose the question you need to ask yourself is this...are you getting your money's worth or not?
  7. barkomatic macrumors 68040

    Aug 8, 2008
    There is waste at any institution. However, the funds that you see going toward landscaping and/or capital projects are often from donors or it is money raised specifically for that purpose. That is, the money *cannot* go toward lowering your tuition. For example, Exxon may approach the university and offer to pay for the "Exxon Stadium" but will not allow the money to go anywhere else. I'm not sure what the specific situation is at your school, but this is common at many institutions.

    One of the big reasons that your tuition is going up is because education is a labor intensive field. You can only have so many students in a class to learn effectively. While technology has lowered costs in other industries (factories use specialized machinery to create massive amounts of product) the same cannot be said for education. It still takes X amount of instructors to effectively teach X amount of students. Almost all the employees you see on campus from office workers to faculty receive health benefits--and as you probably know healthcare costs continue to soar. That drives up operating costs.

    As for "screwing students from proper pay rates" I'm not sure what you are referring to. Are you a work study student? If you are, that money comes from the federal government--its not set by the school. Government support of education at all levels is drying up.

    This is absolutely true. Sadly, with the reduction in government funds universities are slowly being forced to behave like private businesses. If you want to attract the right students, you need the right facilities, faculty and programs. That all costs money. Lots of it.
  8. leenak macrumors 68020

    Mar 10, 2011
    I was offered a job at the University I graduated and the job paid about half of what I would get paid outside, so I can't imagine University jobs paying that much.

    Seriously, how much is your tuition? I think when I graduated in the late 90s (ahem), my tuition was around $9k. I can't quite remember though.
  9. JMB1911 macrumors regular

    Mar 27, 2010
    anytime the gov makes money easy to get, costs go up. look at housing and school for examples.
  10. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    But the trend for the last decade (in California at least) is that money (funding) is harder and harder to get, and just the opposite of you contention is true, costs are going up.

    So I'm not sure that I get your point. It is the opposite of what is happening in the state university system I work in.
  11. classicaliberal macrumors regular


    Jul 19, 2011
    The government has created limitless demand for the products colleges sell. Of course prices are going to skyrocket. As a consequence, the very people government set out to help end up being strapped with burdensome debt for the rest of their lives.
  12. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    I didn't know you were a professor. What is your phd in if you don't mind my asking

    My personal thoughts are that the easy access to student loans makes tuition higher
  13. 12dylan34 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2009
    I won't claim to have any insight as to where what money is spent, but maybe my perceived "wastefulness" is something the school has to do to stay competitive. I would have to agree that as some have suggested, colleges have become/have been forced to behave like private businesses, and thus have to make their campuses marketable. Fancy dining centers, landscaping, the whole lot.

    Just the little things have got me down, though. I'm never pleasantly surprised at how something is less expensive than I thought. There used to be a lot where parking under 15 minutes was free, but it cost me $5.00 the other day just to run into a building and return some equipment that I rented.
  14. AhmedFaisal, Oct 26, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 10, 2013
  15. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I've people talk about Pell grants being the main catalyst for climbing tuition and people talk about reduction of state funding being the main catalyst for climbing tuition and the numbers seem to support reductions in funding as the main cause. Pell grants cover about 1/3 the typical costs of a four year degree today but they covered 3/4 of the cost about 25yr ago. If a university was going to milk the system I don't think it would make sense to so vastly out pace said system because you'd be pricing yourself away from the very people you are trying to attract. State budget cuts to education seem to be a better indicator to increased tuition at public universities than student loans.

    Big state funding cuts plus historically high numbers of people going to college means something has to give and in the last five years or so it's been the tuition damn that's broken wide open. The problem with cutting education so severely is that it leads to cyclical, self-fulfilling prophecy of social, economic and political problems. No good ever comes from having a less educated society.
  16. AhmedFaisal, Oct 26, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 10, 2013
  17. VulchR, Oct 26, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2012

    VulchR macrumors 68020


    Jun 8, 2009
    I've been an academic for nearly 20 years in the UK. However, I have been keeping track of the university from which I received my undergraduate degree. Over time the university's budget has been repeated slashed by the state - sometimes by as much as 10% in a given year. The state used to provide the bulk of the university's funding. Now it provides about 10%. The rest has to be made up by tuition and fees. If you don't like the tuition levels, then vote out the politicians who determine them. The babyboomers vote reliably, and they're finished with the education system, so you can imagine what the priorities of the politicians who cater to them are.... (Hint: health care).

    Finally, FWIW, sometimes the universities get donations that are earmarked for a particular project. If you find a new landscaped area has some sort of memorial name attached to it, it is likely the money came from private funds.
  18. Dmunjal macrumors 65816

    Jun 20, 2010
    This. College costs began to rise with increase in student loans offered by the government. There is always a side effect to their noble intentions. Housing and Medical are the other two industries that have inflated due to government intervention.
  19. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Yes, I was speaking more to public schools in general. There is such a range of higher education in the U.S. that not all schools will necessarily have the same problems.

    How does that explain the sharp increase in tuition at public universities in the last decade compared to previous decades but no corresponding sharp increase in the amount students receive via Pell Grants? Are the cuts to higher education over the last decade just a coincidence?

    I'm not saying that things like Pell Grants have played no role ever in the increase in tuition, but I think the role is minimal to non-existent for the steeper than normal increase over last decade or so. Even if some of the tuition increase is due to federals student loans is the answer really to make it harder for more people to get a college education? What are some viable alternatives (because that doesn't seem like one to me)?
  20. Dmunjal macrumors 65816

    Jun 20, 2010
    I would say it's related to student loans more than to grants since loans are larger and practically unlimited. Free money always drives up costs. Whether it's education, housing, or healthcare. People always spend more than when someone else is paying for it vs. when it comes out of your own pocket.

    Ever go to a restaurant when work is paying for it? Do you find that you tend to order more and the most expensive thing on the menu? Basic human nature.
  21. leenak macrumors 68020

    Mar 10, 2011
    How are student loans unlimited? There are limits, yearly limits and overall limits.

    I took out $11k in loans total when I went to college and I paid it back within a couple years. I knew I was loaning money and although I was well under the limits, I was very conscientious of the fact that it was coming out of my own pocket eventually.
  22. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

    Mar 10, 2005
    Very true. This information isn't always known, either, because some things are paid for via private donations. Where I teach, a parking lot was erased to create a green lawn space with a water fountain. This was the only condition a donor had before they would provide a quite large donation. The school obliged.

    I have an MFA in photography, which is the terminal degree for fine arts (ie: as high as you can go academically in that field)

    And just as an aside, even though I work in higher education, I completely support lower tuition rates. It just doesn't seem to be a topic most politicians seem eager to get behind. In fact, teachers have apparently become an enemy to the public in some ways. I hate losing students who simply aren't able to pay for tuition, and I hate the sticker shock that hits students when they are considering a degree. Not even the professors at a lot of schools in the US could afford the tuition their schools charge.
  23. Dmunjal macrumors 65816

    Jun 20, 2010
    For everyone as conscientious as you, there are others who abuse the privilege. Many students have taken on hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans with no hope to ever pay it back. There is over one trillion in student debt and I'm sure much of it will be defaulted on just like the housing debt was.
  24. Dmunjal macrumors 65816

    Jun 20, 2010
    If there were no student loans tomorrow, what would these universities do when their student population dropped in half or more? They would be forced to lower tuition and find a way to make it work. Housing had the same reaction when the free money (100% NINJA loans) dried up.
  25. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    Make it work? How?

    If the student population for the California State University system dropped in half, 23 college campuses couldn't find a way make it work and many campuses would close down. Thousands of people would be out of work and many communities would be severely impacted by the loss of revenue and jobs that a college campus brings.

    That's a great plan. Fewer educated people. More unemployed. Devastated local businesses and governments.

    Win. Win. Win.


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