Students paying more, arguably getting less

Sophomore Lolla Mohammed Nur has gotten the impression that the University of Minnesota is âÄúall about money.âÄù âÄúThat [perception] is not a good thing and it doesnâÄôt make the University look good,âÄù the former international student from Ethiopia and now Minnesota resident said. But the issue of education and money isnâÄôt independent to Minnesota âÄî college affordability is a higher education issue throughout the United States. A recent study based on federal documents between 2002 and 2006 found that college students are covering more of what it costs to educate themselves, despite the fact most colleges are spending less on students and more on administration. According to the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Costs, Productivity and Accountability, âÄústudents are paying more âÄî and arguably getting less.âÄù Furthermore, the report said the economic downturn may bring on another round of above-average tuition increases, meaning students will pay for a larger share of the total educational cost, even though less of that will pay for classroom instruction. In addition to spending increases for administration, costs for academic support, student services and maintenance have also increased in the last few years, but the amount spent on classroom instruction has declined, according to the report. In 2006, students at public research colleges and universities paid for a little more than half the cost of their education, up from 41 percent in 2002 . The Delta Project isnâÄôt the only study thatâÄôs found students absorbing the increased costs of running a college. The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems has found similar results. NCHEMS President Dennis Jones said throughout good economic times and bad, students in almost all states are paying for a âÄúbigger and bigger shareâÄù of the overall cost of college. NCHEMS has a similar goal as the Delta Project: both are nonprofit organizations seeking to improve administrative decisions when it comes to spending.

How Minnesota measures up

The University of Minnesota has not escaped the national trend. Between the 2002-2003 school year and the 2006-2007 school year, the same timeframe as the Delta ProjectâÄôs data, University of Minnesota undergraduate students faced a nearly 50 percent tuition increase. A 2008 Daily study found only 35 percent of University students think the school spends money wisely on what students believe to be important, such as undergraduate education. Mimicking the national trend of high administration costs, the majority of the highest paid employees at the University are administrators, according to data obtained by the Daily. According to the Delta study, students at public research universities in Minnesota are covering 44 percent of what it costs to educate themselves. Although thatâÄôs 7 percent better than the national average, Minnesota is also increasing that number at a faster rate than the rest of the country. University of Minnesota Senior Analyst Peter Zetterberg was not familiar with the Delta Project and would not comment on tuition increases at the University.

How administrations can avoid tuition increase

NCHEMS President Jones said spending efficiency is a nationwide problem, but increasing student costs shouldnâÄôt be the go-to for fixing college financial problems. âÄúI think in reality that it is a way not to address some productivity issues,âÄù Jones said. âÄúWhen the state has a bad year, the students have an even worse year because they pay more.âÄù Rep. Phyllis Kahn , DFL-Minneapolis, whose district covers much of the University area, is a frequent advocate of lower tuition at the school and said she hopes students will not be paying the price of the impending budget cuts. âÄúI think it would be a real mistake to cut back on student aid,âÄù she said. âÄúItâÄôs really important for everything. Everyone is now saying with all of the things that we need a well-educated populace is the most important thing we can have to ensure the future of the state.âÄù