Colleges Trade Increased Tuition for Fancy New Buildings

Because the college affordability crisis can wait.

Universities are forgoing desperately needed renovations in order to construct state-of-the-art complexes, all at an added expense to students.

As college affordability continues spiraling out of control, it’s nice to see administrators turning their campuses into country clubs on the back of increased tuition.

From The Atlantic:

After years of budget cuts and continuing austerity, universities and colleges collectively face a shortfall of a record $30 billion for what they variously call “deferred maintenance” or “deferred renewal” to deteriorating buildings and other infrastructure …

The problem is compounded by the fact that they nonetheless continue to build more—spending a record $11.5 billion last year—in the hope of attracting students at a time when enrollment is leveling off or falling. That’s further straining maintenance resources and adding billions of dollars of debt for which someone has to pay the interest …

Some universities are already adding “capital renewal fees” to students’ bills to help them pay for renovations and improvements.

With decreases in state funding, universities have turned their sights towards donors and alumni to finance much-needed renovations. However, those donors would rather their money go towards shiny new stuff as opposed to re-shingling the roof on the communications building.

So, instead of making said repairs, schools take the cash and spend billions on new buildings in the hopes that this will attract more students, which will raise revenues and allow them to fund renovations. The failure in this master plan is that these new students aren’t showing up, leaving current students on the hook for the extra cheddar.

Saying it’s “too hard” to get funding for necessary repairs isn’t a good enough answer. Yeah, sometimes jobs are hard, that’s why people get paid to do them. Instead of putting in the work with donors, administrators are fine asking students and families to cover the gaps, knowing they can just turn around and blame rising tuition on the lack of state funding.

Yes, state funding for education is down on the whole, but it’s pretty tough for legislatures to justify increased funding when billions of dollars are being poured into luxury projects on campus.

When asked to pick between a lounge in the basement of the engineering building or an affordable education, ten out of ten students would choose the latter. Just sayin’.


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Cover image: Shutterstock


Posted 07.25.2016 - 02:37 pm EDT

Filed under

Education News

Written by

Michael Gorman