Speed Reads

Austerity in action

Why state universities have become so expensive, in one chart

The skyrocketing price of college tuition at previously affordable state colleges and universities is a longstanding source of concern, especially for people graduating with mountains of student debt. People have many theories as to why this is happening: administrative bloat, too-high salaries for professors, or perhaps too many unnecessary new buildings.

Robert Hiltonsmith, an analyst at Demos, has crunched the numbers. While the above factors do play a small part, the overwhelming reason for increasing prices at state schools is decreasing support from state governments. Here's the take-home chart:

In other words, it's the austerity, stupid.