Monday, December 02, 2002

Marshall-ing evidence (and hello Cold Spring Shops!)

Thanks to Stephen Karlson at Cold Spring Shops for his thoughtful extension of my post on rising administrative costs. Stephen recently noted the same problem, citing this article from Northern Illinois University's campus paper. I went back to check the data to be sure I had this story correct. All of the MnSCU system's budgets are online for people to check.

Simple score: SCSU 2002 budget $137 million; Office of Chancellor and "systemwide" expenditures $111 million.

The system allocates about $600 million currently; we draw less than 10% of that money (out of 53 campuses in the system, and we're over 11% of enrollments), with the rest coming from tuition (over $40 million) and endowments. As mentioned before, about $84 million is spent on personnel from general revenue (and another $10 million supported from special monies); it's my best guess that less than $60 million of this is instructional budget including the benefits, and I believe academic office support is in that number. (Diana, if you're reading, email me!) We are funded on the basis of full-year equivalent enrollments with a two-year lag -- we're up over 500 students, meaning that we're actually getting less funding per student than even the allocation formula should place us. If we therefore back out our share of the system costs at 10%, we're under $2 of instructional cost per dollar of ASP cost.

Stephen like me is an economist (and knows the answer to the t-shirt question "Where in the hell is DeKalb?" that my old grad school friend wore), and in the Marshallian world he cites in his post, the returns to instruction and ASP should reflect the relative contribution of each to the production of education. I think that's a tough case to make here.