One of the charges leveled at universities is that tuition is skyrocketing. While it is true that tuition has increased at a greater rate than inflation over the past several years, it is also true that state funding per student has fallen at the same time. In fact, for the vast majority of public universities, the net result of these two opposing trends (rising tuition and falling state funding per student) has been a decrease in actual total revenue per student, resulting in most of us doing more with less.
Take UT Tyler as an example. In 2002, our university received $10,967 in state funding per student. Add to that our net tuition revenue per student of $2,404, and our total revenue per student was $13,371. Fast-forward to 2011, and state funding per student was $6,238 while net tuition revenue was $4,586 per student, giving us a total of $10,824. Therefore, even though tuition went up, UT Tyler’s actual total revenue decreased by over $2,500 per student. Multiply that decline in revenue per student by our enrollment, and we are looking at something like $12 million fewer dollars in our budget.
Universities understand the financial challenges facing families today, and we are certainly willing to do our part to “tighten our belts.” However, like any business, we must maintain a reasonable level of revenue in order to produce a quality product.