In 1984, it cost $10,000 a year to go to Duke University. Today, it's $60,000 a year. "It's staggering," says Duke freshman Max Duncan, "especially considering that's for four years."
But according to Jim Roberts, executive vice provost at Duke, that's actually a discount. "We're investing on average about $90,000 in the education of each student," he says. Roberts is not alone in making the claim. In fact, it's one most elite research institutions point to when asked about rising tuition.
But just where exactly is all that money going? Michael Schoenfeld, Duke's vice president of public affairs, says for part of that answer, you need to look up: "For the first time in probably anybody's memory, there will be two cranes hovering over the main campus quad." Duke is in the process of renovating its library and dining hall; $8,000 of the $90,000 Duke spends on each student goes into building and maintaining physical infrastructure on campus.