Planning for Higher Education Journal

Understanding the Cost of Public Higher Education

Journal Cover
From Volume 38 Number 3 | April–June 2010
By Peter McPherson, David Shulenburger

This article explains the cost of education in public research universities. “Price,” meaning “tuition,” is often incorrectly substituted for “cost,” meaning expenditures by the university that make the education possible. University cost is disaggregated to enable readers to distinguish between the costs associated with providing education to students and the costs of other non-educational activities that tend to produce their own revenue. While tuition has increased rapidly, real cost per student for providing education has been roughly constant for nearly 20 years. Increased revenue from tuition has been almost precisely offset by reduced revenue from state appropriations.

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