How much do colleges and universities spend on students?
In academic year 2013–14, postsecondary institutions in the United States spent approximately $517 billion (in current dollars). Total expenses were nearly $324 billion at public institutions, $173 billion at private nonprofit institutions, and $21 billion at private for-profit institutions.
Instruction, including faculty salaries and benefits, is the largest single expense category at public and private nonprofit postsecondary institutions. In 2013–14, instruction accounted for 26 percent of total expenses at public institutions, 33 percent of total expenses at private nonprofit institutions, and 27 percent of total expenses at private for-profit institutions. The largest expense category at private for-profit institutions in that year was for the combined expenses of student services, academic support, and institutional support (63 percent), which includes expenses associated with admissions, student activities, libraries, and administrative and executive activities. By comparison, student services, academic support, and institutional support made up 20 percent of total expenses at public institutions and 30 percent of total expenses at private nonprofit institutions. Combined expenses for research and public service constituted 13 percent and hospitals constituted 11 percent of total expenses at public institutions. At private nonprofit institutions, research and public service combined, hospitals, and auxiliary enterprises (i.e., self-supporting operations, such as residence halls) constituted 12, 10, and 9 percent of total expenses, respectively.
Percentage of total expenses at degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by purpose of expenses and control of institution: 2013–14
# Rounds to zero.
NOTE: Degree-granting institutions grant associate's or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs.
In 2013–14, total expenses per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student were higher at private nonprofit postsecondary institutions ($51,736) than at public institutions ($30,502) and private for-profit institutions ($19,654). Expenses per FTE student in this indicator are adjusted for inflation using constant 2014–15 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Private nonprofit institutions spent more than twice as much per FTE student on instruction ($17,003) as public institutions ($8,070) and more than three times as much as private for-profit institutions ($5,266); the amount spent at public institutions was also higher than the amount spent at private for-profit institutions. Expenses per FTE student for research and public service (such as expenses for public broadcasting and community services) followed the same pattern, with private nonprofit institutions spending more than public institutions ($6,055 vs. $3,925) and private for-profit institutions ($6,055 vs. $16). Similarly, for the combined expenses of student services, academic support, and institutional support, a total of $15,778 per FTE student was spent at private nonprofit institutions, which was higher than the amount spent at private for-profit institutions ($12,460 per FTE student), which was, in turn, higher than the amount spent at public institutions ($6,050 per FTE student).
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2016). The Condition of Education 2016 (NCES 2016-144), Postsecondary Institution Expenses.
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