Report: Americans aren’t getting what they pay for when it comes to higher education

Sterling Beard
Director of Journalism Training

  • The American Council of Trustees and Alumni examined 52 flagship universities to determine if people get their money's worth.
  • The schools have bloated administrations, "shaky" curricula and "misplaced priorities."
  • Only 53.6 percent of students at these schools complete a four-year degree in four years.
  • A new report from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni shows that Americans aren’t getting their money’s worth when it comes to 52 leading institutions of higher education.

    In Getting What You Pay For?, ACTA found that the cost of higher education at the 52 publicly-funded institutions have “[b]loated administrative costs, shaky curricula, outsized athletic spending, and misplaced priorities.”

    As a result, 32 of the institutions examined in the report pay their president a salary equal to or greater than that of President Barack Obama ($400,000). The average salary for a full professor at these schools is $133,194.

    Many universities have dozens of majors that graduate fewer than 10 students annually; at some schools, these small programs make up over a third of all programs offered. At the University of Vermont, such programs account for 43.6 percent of the school’s bachelor programs.

    Despite such small programs, just 53.6 percent of the students pursuing a four-year degree at these universities graduate in four years.

    Moreover, none of the universities require so much as a basic economics course. Only five require an American history or government course.

    “The American people are directing millions of dollars to these universities and the return on investment seems too often to be lower academic standards, wasteful spending, and plenty of student debt,” said ACTA president Anne D. Neal in a release. “It’s time for our colleges and universities to uphold their commitment to the people who finance them.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @SterlingCBeard





    Sterling Beard

    Sterling Beard

    Director of Journalism Training
    Sterling Beard is Campus Reform's Director of Journalism Training. Prior to joining Campus Reform, he spent time as an editorial associate for National Review Online and as a staff writer at The Hill, where he served as the Intercollegiate Studies Institute's Lyn Nofziger Fellow and regularly appeared across the country on Fox News Radio to provide analysis of current events. In 2017, Sterling was named to The Chronicle of Higher Education's Influence List, one of nine people who "affected federal policy, campus culture, and the national conversation about education in 2017 — and who are likely to remain influential in the year ahead."
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