Wednesday, November 17, 2010

25 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College: Part 2

With the generous support of Lumina Foundation, CCAP is releasing today the second of five parts to 25 Ways to Reduce the Cost of College, a detailed analysis of 25 different ways that college administrators and public policy leaders can cut college costs in order to make colleges more productive with their resources and more affordable to their students. The second part, which includes chapter 6-12, is titled "Use Fewer Resources." The following topics are covered in this section:
6. Reduce Administrative Staff: Today on college campuses, administrators comprise nearly a quarter of all employees and it is not uncommon for schools to have more people working in an administrative capacity than serving as faculty members. This bureaucracy is not only expensive, but also contributes to slow and often non-innovative decision making.

7. Cut Unnecessary Programs: Although it is politically difficult, selective cuts that eliminate entire programs are necessary for serious cost reduction. When analyzing program viability, certain questions must be asked: Is the program critical? Is the program financially stable? Is there sufficient student demand and faculty interest? Does the program have a superior national academic reputation? The answer to all of these questions is rarely “yes.”

8. End the “Athletics Arms Race”: Intercollegiate athletics programs lose millions of dollars every year and require substantial subsidies from students to balance their budgets. Mutual cooperation across institutions is necessary to reduce costs through methods such as limiting coaches’ salaries, restricting excessive travel and shortening athletic seasons.

9. Overhaul the FAFSA: Estimates suggest that well over 1.5 million aid-eligible low income people fail to apply for financial assistance, in large part because of the complexity of the application process. Minor changes in law and the cooperation of other federal agencies would allow the FAFSA form to be completely abolished while still obtaining the truly vital information needed to assess an individual’s financial need.

10. Eliminate Excessive Academic Research: Faculty research is subject to the principle of diminishing returns. This is especially true in the social sciences and humanities where over 26,000 articles on William Shakespeare have been published since 1980. In many cases, increasing faculty teaching loads at the expense of research is a prudent re-allocation of resources that could save students money.

11. Streamline Redundant Programs at the State Level: The use of electronic means of communication can be used to allow faculty from multiple institutions to participate in joint degree programs. Merging two or three marginal programs into one of greater substance can save resources in the long run as a single integrated program is established.

12. Promote Collaborative Purchasing: Private companies like Wal-Mart use their enormous purchasing power to negotiate low prices from suppliers. For a large portion of purchases, colleges banding together as consortiums to buy goods in bulk is a worthwhile strategy to pursue.
Each of these chapters is available for free download from our website (in pdf). The third part of 25 Ways is scheduled for release next Wednesday, November 25.

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