Four things you don’t know about college costs

Mar 7, 2013

Credit File / KBIA

Annual tuition hikes over the past five years have made some Mizzou students question whether college is really worth the price tag. However, Nikki Krawitz, MU’s vice president for finance and administration, said the 2.3 percent per year rises in tuition are pretty reasonable compared to the 6 percent of colleges in surrounding states, according to the MU website.

Krawitz and former MU budget director Tim Rooney gave us some insider information about the costs of running a university.  This is how they see it:

1. Most university cutbacks come from cutting smaller staff positions within departments, not big budget slashes
“A lot of this cost saving activity happens at a very low level and it’s not very noticeable. ... In the aggregate it amounts to quite a bit,” Rooney said.

2. Cutting major academic programs doesn’t save money right off the bat
“You don’t reap any savings for five or 10 years after you cut an academic program if it has tenured faculty and you have students in the pipeline who you want to let finish their degree,” Rooney said.

3. A new tuition scale might make universities more lucrative
Right now, students pay about the same price for school, no matter their major. Rooney thinks that should change.
“We should be free to charge what the market would bear on tuition. … Look at what the market demand is, what the starting salary is... and charge the tuition for that particular area based on those sort of things,” Rooney said.

4. Monitoring faculty productivity could cut costs
“How do faculty spend their time? ... I think we need to look at that more closely and decide from an institutional perspective what’s in the best interest of the institution... and make some of the hard decisions. … We have a large number of faculty who might be better off teaching a class than doing something else that they’re currently doing,” Krawitz said.

Krawitz and and Rooney spoke with KBIA on Intersection earlier this week.  Watch the whole show or listen here.