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An Interesting Perspective That Caused High College Cost

I found an interesting answer that I never thought before which seems to be reasonable.

Photo of Jie Dong
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From my previous research, I found, besides tuition, college costs are combined by many other expenses, like room, board and supplies. Before I solve this challenge, I need to know all the possibilities. I am thinking if there are all factors caused the high cost in college. Is there any deeper cause? So I was searching some answers in Quora. Here is one answer that I never thought before. ( The author said that college tuitions are paying more for administration than for teaching. It is the same problem in public education system. Part of budget is to running colleges instead of teaching. And many colleges have more administrators and staffers than instructors and professors. So some of budgets have to be paid for these people. Also many faculty are part-time and majority administrators and staffers are full-time.

Here is a reference posted by the author “Between 1975 and 2005, total spending by American higher educational institutions, stated in constant dollars, tripled, to more than $325 billion per year. Over the same period, the faculty-to-student ratio has remained fairly constant, at approximately fifteen or sixteen students per instructor. One thing that has changed, dramatically, is the administrator-per-student ratio. In 1975, colleges employed one administrator for every eighty-four students and one professional staffer—admissions officers, information technology specialists, and the like—for every fifty students. By 2005, the administrator-to-student ratio had dropped to one administrator for every sixty-eight students while the ratio of professional staffers had dropped to one for every twenty-one students."

This finding let me remember that one of schools in my university has many part-time faculties who are also working in companies or running startups. But this school requires higher tuition than any school. Besides tuition issue, if a faculty running a company at the same time teaches course in university, how much energy she or he has to devote to learning? And how long they will spend on preparing teaching materials?

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

If this condition is about education system policy, how can we do to improve it or change it?


Join the conversation:

Photo of Shane Zhao

Nice one Jie! "What's in the cost of college" is a theme that's come up in the challenge quite a bit. You'll be particularly interested in joining the discussions in these two like-minded posts

Tuition Breakdown:
Unused Student Services:

Also here's a helpful tip: to activate links in your post, hit the Edit Contribution button at the top of your post . Scroll down to your Full Description field. Select the text you'd like to link, hit the link icon in the Rich Text Editor at the top of this field and enter your link. That way everyone will be able to check it out easily, straight from your post.

Photo of Patricio Toussaint


Great contribution! It is really true what you are mentioning. It would be very useful to know the tasks the administration staff does. Since it could be that some of the jobs could be done by the students. The students could get paid or reduced by a significant amount their tuition. So that could be a good idea in order to research.

Besides Shane's links there is another contribution made by Morgan that could be replicated towards colleges (

Great contribution thanks for sharing!

Photo of Jie Dong

Hi Patricio, great suggestion. I agree that maybe many of jobs could be done by students, so that the students not only can get some paid, but also earn work experience somehow. Thanks for replying!

Photo of Jie Dong

Hi Shane, thanks for sharing. I think the articles you referred give a clear explanation on school expense and also inspired me a lot. Indeed, find out what caused high tuition fees will be a critical factor in solving this challenge. Also I didn't find that my links were not activated. Thanks for reminding, I will fix it : )