Higher Education: Resources and Finance

By Seymour E. Harris | Go to book overview
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In general, fees for liberal arts schools and teachers colleges are low in public institutions, and clearly much below costs for divinity students in private ones. Charges for technological students are high, though far below costs in public institutions. Not only do students in other independent professional schools pay high fees in both public and private institutions, but the charge is two-thirds as high in public as in private institutions. For all fees public charges are but 30 per cent of those in private institutions. High fees in the other independent professional schools reflect not only an association of private gain for this kind of education but also the high costs involved in the instruction.

Nonpecuniary considerations are also evident in the tuition charges, college by college. I refer the reader to earlier discussion of variations in costs and tuition of Harvard.8

Again, Table 7A-1 reveals large differences in charges as compared to costs. For one university, business administration accounts for 8 per cent of instructional expenditures and 23 per cent of the students; medicine, for 19 per cent of expenditures and 1 per cent of the students. In graduate instruction (arts and science) at another university, the costs are 6 to 7 times as high per student vis-à-vis those in the lower division and 2 ½ times vis-à-vis those in the upper division. Yet graduate fees in arts and sciences are generally not higher but lower than undergraduate ones.

As we shall see in the next chapter, basing tuition policy on social values has a considerable tradition in this country.


In view of the financial difficulties confronting IHL it is rather surprising that they have not increased tuition more. One important reason is the fear of losing students to competitors.

Yet rates vary greatly--from free tuition to charges in excess of $1,500. Students also take into account the ratio of tuition to costs. That, for example, a student may pay $1,000 for a $3,000 education and $400 for a $400 education should surely influence the parent and the student. To some extent such considerations are taken into account. They explain in part the penchant for the prestige institutions.

It is often assumed that the competition of the public institution is the dominant factor everywhere but in the Northeast, where public tuition is high. But actually the tuition differential between public and private institutions is higher in the Northeast than in the rest of the country.

Students will often select higher-priced rather than lower-priced institutions because of product differentiation, an item not easy to define or measure. Obviously the main interest is in what the college contributes. Then we have to take into account the input (student ability, motivation,


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