Issue Briefs


Faculty salaries, cuts in state aid, spending and “administrative bloat” all play a role in rising college costs. But a close look at staffing and compensation within the rapidly changing higher education workforce tells the full story.


This issue brief breaks down the “cost per degree” estimates for 28 disciplines, including those in the STEM fields, which are among the most expensive degrees to produce. The brief points to ways colleges can change their tuition structure to finance STEM degrees more affordably.

Concerns about college costs and student debt are at an all-time high. This issue brief looks into the impact that certain types of institutions and degree programs (STEM or SBE sciences) can have on a student’s potential debt load, particularly on students who are underrepresented in the STEM fields.

Although undergraduates in the STEM and SBE fields tend to accumulate considerable student loan debt, this issue brief finds the opposite is true for many individuals pursuing doctorates in the sciences. Early debt accumulation at the undergraduate level can have dramatic implications for participation in advanced degrees, the brief explains.

This issue brief examines where STEM and SBE majors are earning their degrees and what these students typically pay for their undergraduate education, with special emphasis on underrepresented minority populations. Students are seeking more affordable options, the brief finds, but student loan debt is a growing concern for broaden participation in STEM fields.

Athletics are big business on many college campuses, but does it come with a price tag? This issue brief looks at academic and athletic spending in NCAA Division I public universities between 2005 and 2010.



This brief offers policy advice to state fiscal policymakers on postsecondary education spending priorities for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

This report describes various approaches to calculating what it costs colleges to graduate students with bachelor’s degrees. The paper uses actual spending data from two public university systems to describe several ways to talk about the cost of bachelor’s degree education in different contexts.

The gaps between higher education funding and the public need to increase access and degree attainment are large and growing. Finding resources to meet the needs of the future will require better accountability for costs in higher education.