According to a recent New York Times article, debt levels at U.S. colleges have more than doubled over the last decade and now total hundreds of billions of dollars.
This debt has been largely fueled by new construction projects—new dorms and new facilities, even new locations abroad. A robust example: NYU has expanded to 11 new cities abroad over the last 11 years.
That colleges have been assuming massive amounts of debt to complete these construction projects is alarming for two reasons. First, colleges’ debts are usually financed by increases in tuition and fees. Second, a building project can only marginally improve the quality of the education a student receives; in many cases, students end up spending far more on a building than they benefit from it. (A good argument for bypassing that costly new athletic center: money trouble currently fuels many of the college-completion difficulties that students, particularly first-generation students, face.)
Given the high cost of higher education, should there be limits on colleges’ non-essential expenditures? Should schools be required to spend a certain portion of their budget directly on student education? Speak your mind in the comments section below!