By Allie Simon and Emily Fowler
27 of America’s top 30 universities are raising tuition and fees for the next academic year.
All 30 universities have raised prices at least once since the 2019-2020 academic year, which coincided with the COVID-19 outbreak in America.
That school year aligned with the spring 2020 COVID-19 outbreak.
A Campus Reform analysis of 2019-2022 tuition figures from U.S. News & World Report found that Vanderbilt University increased its tuition the most in that timeframe.
At the start of COVID-19, Vanderbilt charged $52,070. As of the 2022-2023 academic year, tuition at the Tennessee university is up approximately 11.64% from 2019-2020 to $58,130.
2022-2023 figures in the analysis come directly from the universities’ websites.
Only Harvard University and Duke University have lowered tuition for the 2022-2023 academic year. The University of Michigan is keeping its same tuition rate.
The University of Virginia is decreasing its in-state tuition but is increasing its out-of-state tuition.
The chart below tracks tuition and fee rates from the last four academic years. In-state and out-of-state tuition rates are both included for public universities.
During the pandemic, universities went remote and transitioned students to virtual learning.
Despite receiving billions in federal assistance, universities were still imposing re-opening delays and remote instruction at the start of the spring 2022 semester, Campus Reform reported in January.
In May, students at Lindenwood University in Missouri won a $1.65 million lawsuit after suing the institution for providing only remote courses during the pandemic.
The plaintiffs accused the university of up-charging poor-quality virtual instruction.
Last month, Campus Reform reported that Boston University’s 4.25% rise in tuition was the largest hike at the school in 14 years. But that number is still lower than three of America’s top 30 universities.
The University of Southern California is raising its rates by 6.96%, Emory University is raising tuition by 4.47%, and Brown University is increasing tuition by 4.39%.
U.S. News reported in 2021 that average tuition and fees had increased 144% at private universities since 2002, out-of-state tuition and fees for public universities had increased 171%, and in-state tuition and fees at public universities have increased 211%.
In 2017, Jeanna A. Robinson, president of the James G. Martin Center of Academic Renewal, published research appearing to confirm the “Bennett Hypothesis” that “federal student aid contributes to increasing university tuition.”
In August 2020, The Manhattan Institute’s Beth Akers argued that rising tuition fees resulted from a lack of market competition in higher education.
“By introducing policies that make the marketplace for higher education more transparent and competitive, the U.S. can curb tuition inflation, or, at the very least, ensure that college students have access to higher-quality educational programming that offers a significant return on investment,” Akers concluded.
Within universities, factors likely contributing to inflated tuition include administrative bloat and increases in student services spending.
Campus Reform spoke with Johns Hopkins University professor Ben Ginsburg in 2021 about administrative bloat.
Ginsburg is a critic of universities that disproportionately devote resources to administrative personnel over faculty.
“There are now more deans, deanlets, deanlings, ding-a-lings, and ding-dongs than there are faculty members,” Ginsburg said.
Recent analysis by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) concluded that “increases in spending are associated with rising tuition,” though “[a]t public institutions, spending on student services showed no statistically significant correlation with graduation rates.”
“Tuition is not a good indicator of academic quality at all,” ACTA’s Kyle Beltramini recently told Campus Reform.