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Why is College so Expensive?

2019-01-01 , Beecham, Brandon , Accounting

Iowa public university tuition prices have been rising over the past few decades which has made education unattainable for those unable to afford the large price tags. The financial statements of the three Iowa public universities from 1990-2018 were analyzed. Our research found that yearly tuition and fees for an undergraduate resident, when adjusted for inflation, have increased by about $5,100 – $5,850 since 1990 and the undergraduate non-resident yearly tuition and fees increase has been around $10,100 -$20,500 depending on the university. ISU and U of I have much lower state appropriations funding on a per enrolled student than their 1990 inflation adjusted amounts; however, UNI’s state funding has remained relatively unchanged. Inversely, increased scholarship spending has decreased “true” tuition for the students that receive these funds (largely those with financial need). Additionally, instructor compensation per enrolled student has decreased significantly which, if instructors feel underpaid, could affect our faculty retention numbers and national rankings. This increasing tuition price trend and decreasing instructor compensation could negatively impact the future economic prospects of the state of Iowa and its residents.