Planning for Higher Education Journal

An Analysis of Instructional Expenditures in U.S. Public Higher Education

From 2004 Through 2015
From Volume 47 Number 3 | April–June 2019
By Dawn Iwamasa, Michael Thrasher
Planning Types: Resource Planning

Due to the rising price of tuition, the prevailing narrative regarding higher education is that the cost of delivering a college degree is increasing substantially. However, the cost of delivering an education is not definitively linked to the price in tuition paid to attend. Prior studies confirmed small increases in instructional expenditures per full-time-equivalent student from the 1980s to 2000; however, more recent trends in instructional costs are relatively unknown. The purpose of this study was to track instructional expenditures from 2004 to 2015 at U.S. public two-year and four-year institutions, and to calculate those expenditures as a proportion of U.S. Gross Domestic Product.