This week we’re looking at which colleges spend the most on teaching students. Specifically, we’re going to look at the average instructional expenses per student. In some ways, you can consider it a monetary form of the student-faculty ratio. Theoretically, the more money spent on teaching the student, the better for the student.
Some Issues with College Spending on Teaching
However, like the student-faculty ratio, there are some significant limitations to the average instructional expenses numbers. The amount is the average for full-time equivalent students at both the graduate and undergraduate level. So schools with a higher percentage of graduate students are likely to have higher averages because of the higher costs associated with educating graduate students.
There’s another problem in what expenses are actually considered under the instructional category. Colleges that use the GASB accounting method such as state institutions, do not include operation and maintenance of plant or interest in instructional expenses while those that use the FASB do.
Furthermore, the category can include “expenses for departmental research and public service that are not separately budgeted.” Schools with larger research expenses are more likely to budget them separately than those institutions that focus on teaching. We have no way of know whether or not these colleges have large enough expenses to make a difference in the numbers.
How Much do Colleges Spend on Teaching Students?
So instructional expenses per student, like most numbers we look at in education, is a messy number. Messy as it is, we’ll take a look at it anyway. The average instructional expenses for schools with 500 or more full-time undergraduates is $11,160. For public institutions it’s $10,777 and private it’s $11,399.
There isn’t much difference between private 50-50 schools non-50-50 schools. Private 50-50 colleges average about $200 less per student than non-50-50 private schools.
However, public 50-50 universities spend an average of over $1,000 more per student than non-50-50 schools.
The following tables shows the top 10% of schools in instructional spending per students for 50-50 schools. The first table lists the private schools, the second the public universities. As usual, the four-year graduation rate is used for private schools and the five-year rate is used for