Trends in College Spending: 2003–2013 – Where Does the Money Come From? Where Does It Go? What Does It Buy?

Source: Donna M. Desrochers and Steven Hurlburt, Delta Cost Project, January 2016

Trends in College Spending: 2003–2013 examines college and university finances during one of the most turbulent economic periods in decades. The financial ramifications of the 2008 recession were vast, affecting students’ ability to pay for college, lawmakers’ prioritization of public resources, and the budgetary environment facing higher education leaders. The challenges brought by the fiscal crisis also provided colleges and universities with an opportunity to reevaluate how they allocated resources and rethink how to manage costs and improve student outcomes.

Like previous Trends in College Spending reports, this update is meant to aid readers in developing a deeper understanding of how colleges collect and spend money and the outcomes they produce. Financial and performance trends during the 2003–2013 decade suggest that, five years after the onset of the recession, higher education finally began to show signs of a fiscal recovery.

Spending increases were widespread in 2013, with all types of public and private institutions spending, on average, more per student than the year before. Public and private research and master’s institutions experienced the strongest resurgence, as educational spending per student returned near the peak levels observed before the recession. The strongest revenue growth occurred among public research universities and private institutions. Public community colleges also saw a particularly strong financial turnaround in 2013, aided by sharp enrollment declines that eased strained budgets and boosted per-student financial measures, although they remained well below their prerecession operating levels…..
Delta Cost Project Database
The Delta Cost Project Database is updated with 2012-2013 data. These data have been translated into analytical formats to allow for longitudinal analyses of trends in postsecondary education, with a focus on revenues and expenditures.

Trends in College Spending (TCS) Online
TCS Online is updated with 2007-2012 data. This user-friendly data tool provides information on revenues, spending, and outcomes for individual colleges and universities and for the U.S.