The More Taxpayers Pay For College, The Worse It Gets
The Supreme Court will hear two cases next month challenging the Biden administration’s recent move to require taxpayers to pay off $400 billion in other people’s federal student loan debt. Regardless of one’s stance on the issue of college debt, President Biden’s move is a one-time treatment, not a cure. Policymakers and students alike need systemic fixes to push down the ballooning price of higher education. They can do this by targeting the root of the issue: administrative bloat.
College tuition has shot up in recent decades, but it can’t be blamed on inflation or the increased cost of living. According to federal Consumer Price Index data, inflation of college tuition and fees dramatically outpaces all other sectors of the economy — even health care.
Why is this the case? A state audit of the University of California system identified rising administrative costs as the main driver of tuition increases, citing a 28 percent increase in system-wide administrative spending from fiscal years 2012-13 to 2015-16. Since then, the trend has only accelerated: As of 2021, non-instructional personnel comprises more than half of four-year university staff nationwide. In response, spending on per-student instruction decreased, dropping 13 percent between 2008 and 2018.
It’s what economists have coined “administrative bloat” — the rapid and ballooning expansion of administrative spending, driving up tuition costs and funneling money away from real academic instruction. Not only does this mean students are getting less for their own, their parents’, and taxpayers’ money, but it also is a tacit subsidy to the extremist left. That’s because the vast majority of such administrators use their positions to impose identity politics on students with speech codes for pronouns, falsely labeling young men as rapists with no due process in Title IX kangaroo courts, and forcing university staff and students into cultural Marxist struggle sessions
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