NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

High Tuition Costs are Avoidable

February 13, 2004

The soaring costs of college tuition have made the task of saving for higher education all that more difficult. Between 1990 and 2000, the average tuition costs among private colleges nearly doubled, going from about $10,300 to $19,300. Similarly, over this same period, state universities have imposed an 85 percent tuition increase on their students.

However, many experts say that this trend in higher education costs need not continue. A report by economist Lewis Andrews summarizes five ways to lower tuition fees:

  • Professors are becoming too specialized -- instead, they should bear a greater teaching load by broadening their focus to support a well-rounded curriculum.
  • Universities should make more efficient use of online resources, such as enhancing the design of libraries so they can act as learning centers to provide online course instruction.
  • A multi-layered tuition system, whereby students would pay more for courses that involve expensive laboratory equipment or lengthy seminars, would allocate costs more efficiently.
  • Classes need to be better designed to accommodate the interests and learning abilities of the students.
  • Faculty professors should use their expertise to determine how to reduce resources spent complying with government regulation -- such wasteful expenditures can cost a university as much as $20 million every year.

Andrews adds that many state universities are burdened by rigid finance laws that require them to return unspent balances to state treasuries. He contends that these laws have encouraged universities to spend excess funds carelessly for fear that they will be appropriated by government.

Source: Lewis M. Andrews, "Five Ways to Spend Less on Higher Education," Budget & Tax News, January 2004, Heartland Institute.


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