ANALYSIS: Higher tuition rates correlate with more woke programming

A Campus Reform analysis of four North Carolina universities found a correlation between higher tuition and diversity, equity, and inclusion spending at private colleges compared to state-funded institutions.

Averaged together, the private universities are outspending the public institutions more than 3-to-1 on students' 'emotional and physical well-being.'

A Campus Reform analysis of four North Carolina universities found a correlation between higher tuition and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) spending at private colleges compared to state-funded institutions. 

For the 2022-2023 year, Duke University will charge students $60,435 for tuition alone and Wake Forest University will charge $61,012.

In-state tuition next year will be $6,535 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and $9,128 at North Carolina State University (NC State). 

These figures do not include housing, meal plans, or student fees. 

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Tuition for the private universities, Duke and Wake Forest, equates to approximately 107% of the 2020 median household income in North Carolina. 

By contrast, the public universities’ in-state tuition rates are priced at approximately 14% of the state’s median household income for in-state students.

In addition to charging more money, these private universities also spend more per student on Student Services costs, which the website How Colleges Spend Money defines as expenditures for “students’ emotional and physical well-being” and “intellectual, cultural, and social development outside the context of the formal instructional program.” 

In 2020 Duke spent $5,098 per student and Wake Forest spent $4,798 per student on Student Services costs. UNC spent $1,742 and NC State spent $1,356, according to data from How Colleges Spend Money. 

Averaged together, the private universities are outspending public institutions more than 3-to-1 on the broad category of student services. 

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A 2021 report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) noted that Student Services costs “often also include diversity and inclusion initiatives.” 

Corroborating Campus Reform’s findings in North Carolina, the ACTA report determined that, “Increases in per-student spending on instruction, administration, and student services were each correlated with an increase in tuition for the next academic year, even after controlling for levels of appropriations and institutional characteristics.”

At Duke, for example, the Office of Institutional Equity produces “Affirmative Action Plans,” DEI workshops, and trainings on anti-racism and microaggressions. 

Duke also has a Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity that, among other university-sponsored activities, hosts an annual “Coming Out Day”. 

Wake Forest’s Intercultural Center hosts “Identity Development Initiatives” that include programs such as “Making Meaning of Men & Masculinities” and a “Women Encouraging Empowerment” group that “validate students’ value as members of the Wake Forest University community.”

UNC and NC State also dedicate substantial resources to such non-educational student services. 

In April, UNC sponsored a “Drag Queen Bingo” event. The university also conducts “psychological safety and inclusion” training through its Office of Diversity and puts on annual “Pride Week” events through its LGTBQ Center

NC State’s Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity has separate “Diversity, Engagement, Training and Education” and “Equal Opportunity and Equity” units in addition to a Bias Impact Response Team. 

Accordingly, the university’s February 2022 Equity Research Symposium asked participants to spend a day answering the question “what does equity mean to me?”

[RELATED: ANALYSIS: Students face financial reality of inflation]

Additionally, the ACTA report confirmed that increased university spending is correlated with higher costs for students and minimal to no improvement in four-year graduation rates.

“Tuition is not a good indicator of academic quality at all,” Kyle Beltramini, a policy research fellow with the ACTA, told Campus Reform, referencing overspending as a factor in annual tuition hikes.

Beltramini hopes to encourage trustees to actively manage and push back on the high levels of spending. 

“We don’t want boards of trustees to just rubber stamp everything that comes to their desk from the administration. We want them to say, ‘Why are we spending this much money? How is this going to improve graduation rates?’ And, we want basically, the administration to justify everything that’s going to go and get passed on to students,” he said. 

Campus Reform contacted the universities mentioned for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.