In an op-ed in the New York Times over the weekend, University of Colorado law professor Paul F. Campos offered a provocative answer to the frequently asked question: why is college so expensive these days?
Campos says it's because colleges are expanding their administrative staff and paying them big salaries, which drives up costs for families. And he argues that this is happening even though state spending on higher education has actually skyrocketed.
Some of this is true, but it's a bit more nuanced than the article suggests. [...]
Campos concedes in his piece that "total state appropriations per student are somewhat lower than they were at their peak in 1990." But that's an understatement considering that per-student spending has fallen nearly 30 percent in the past 25 years, said Mark Huelsman, a policy analyst at liberal think tank Demos.
"That’s not really 'somewhat lower.' And total educational revenue – tuition plus state support, basically – hasn’t really budged all that much," he said. "If higher education is a public priority, increased demand would lead to investment that keeps pace with that demand. It’s a policy choice to not do that, or more specifically, to seek lower tax revenues at the expense of funding public higher education."