How much do colleges and universities spend on students?
In 2010-11, total expenses were $296 billion (in current dollars) at public postsecondary institutions, $153 billion at private nonprofit institutions, and $23 billion at private for-profit institutions.
Instruction, including faculty salaries and benefits, is the largest expense category at public and private nonprofit postsecondary institutions and the second largest category at private for-profit institutions. In 2010-11, the percentage of total expenses spent on instruction was 27 percent at public institutions and 33 percent at private nonprofit institutions. At private for-profit institutions, instruction constituted 25 percent of total expenses; but student services, academic support, and institutional support, which includes expenses associated with admissions, student activities, libraries, and administrative and executive activities, was the largest category, at 66 percent. At public and private nonprofit institutions, expenses on student services, academic support, and institutional support are available as separate categories. Combined expenses on student services, academic support, and institutional support made up 19 percent of total expenses at public institutions and 30 percent at private nonprofit institutions. Other relatively large categories at public institutions (i.e., those accounting for 8-10 percent of expenses) were research, hospitals, and institutional support. At private nonprofit institutions, some of the other large categories (i.e., those accounting for 8-13 percent of expenses) were institutional support, research, auxiliary enterprises (i.e., self-supporting operations, such as residence halls), hospitals, academic support, and student services.
Percentage of total expenses at postsecondary institutions, by purpose of expenses and control of institution: 2010-11
# Rounds to zero.
In 2010-11, total expenses per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student were much higher at private nonprofit postsecondary institutions ($47,779) than at public institutions ($27,656) and private for-profit institutions ($14,111). Expenses per FTE student are reported in constant 2011-12 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Private nonprofit institutions spent more than twice as much per student on instruction ($15,568) as public institutions did ($7,413). A similar pattern was found for most other expense classifications, such as student services, academic support, and institutional support (a total of $14,437 for private nonprofit institutions vs. $5,302 for public institutions).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). The Condition of Education 2013 (NCES 2013-037), Expenses of Postsecondary Institutions.
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