Colleges must rethink how they finance their future

Stefanie Botelho's picture

Word is leaking out from the spring meetings of college and university governing boards across the country that the most expensive institutions have now crossed the $60,000 level in their just posted annual comprehensive fees.

It's an important psychological threshold.

The comprehensive fee -- generally defined as tuition, fees, room and board -- is a complex combination of factors. The cost of labor can be as much as sixty percent of the college's operating budget. Buildings, and the depreciation associated with them, add additional significant ongoing expense. And the discount applied to the largest fee -- tuition -- can be as much as 30-65 percent of the announced tuition sticker price. There are also payments on debt that can further diminish wiggle room.

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