Pensions blamed for college costs pushing through the roof
Eastern Illinois University’s (EIU) average cost of tuition and fees increased by 78 percent over the course of 10 years, according to an Illinois Policy Institute report on the state’s higher education crisis.
Higher education has grown out of the reach for many low-income students, the institute argued. The cost at EIU jumped from an average of $6,339 in 2006 to $11,305 in 2016.
But while many universities have pointed to Illinois’ budget problems as the primary reason for escalating costs, the institute's vice president of policy, Ted Dabrowski, and policy analyst John Klingner argue that increased administrative and pension costs are the biggest challenges facing state universities.
“Rather than keep tuition low, Illinois colleges and universities have taken the flood of federal and state monies available to higher education over the past two decades and spent it on a massive increase in administrative positions and exorbitant executive compensation,” Dabrowski and Klingner wrote in their report, noting that pensions have grown out of control, spurred by administrative salaries.
According to the report, the number of administrators at Illinois’ public universities grew by 31.1 percent between 2004 and 2010, a period that saw faculty and students grow by only 1.8 and 2.3 percent, respectively. Pension costs have also exploded, from $4.2 billion in 1987 to $37 billion in 2014; they now account for more than half of the state’s higher education spending.
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