The Corner

Education

College Costs Too Much — For Students and Taxpayers

North Carolina has managed to keep its public universities more affordable than most, but could further reduce the cost burden on both students and taxpayers, writes Shannon Watkins in today’s Martin Center article.

What she has to say about North Carolina applies with at least equal force in other states, and usually more.

Students are compelled to pay an array of fees that mostly fund campus events and activities they aren’t really interested in, such as athletics. Students at the poorest and most marginal UNC campus (Elizabeth City State) have to fork over an additional $878 per year to keep the athletics department going.

The mandatory student fees also help to cover the cost of university borrowing in the past to fund building projects. But many of those projects wouldn’t have been necessary if the schools had properly maintained old buildings and made more efficient use of space.

Taxpayers are squeezed needlessly too. The big item Watkins identifies is administrative cost, which is driven up by the employment of more administrators than necessary. She quotes Johns Hopkins professor Benjamin Ginsburg in his book The Fall of the Faculty, who advocates “taking a pair of shears” to the bloated administrative bureaucracy at colleges and universities. (I suggest starting with the “Diversity and Inclusion” offices that do nothing except stir up antagonism to make themselves look necessary.)

Watkins concludes,

Even though higher education is rather affordable for students, North Carolina places an excessively heavy burden on taxpayers — paying more for higher education than most other states. If university officials wish to ensure the prosperity of all North Carolinians, then they have the responsibility to cut down on their superfluous spending habits.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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