Where do colleges spend their money?

While it seems like more and more colleges are spending lavishly to increase their prestige (this can be seen in the luxury dorms going up on campuses), it would be nice to know where all this tuition money is going.

Every college obviously spends money differently, but here we will take a look at the averages for public and private institutions. Spending for public and private 4-year institutions has increased steadily over the past 10 years, with student tuition covering significantly more of the educational costs over that period.

How Colleges Spend Their Money

Most Expensive Colleges for 2010-2011

This year saw many increases in tuition prices, some even drawing protests and near riots. There are many reasons for these increases, but it is mostly blamed on reduced state appropriations, higher health care costs, and increased utility costs.

The demand for college increases during a recession as those who can’t find work go back to school. Easy access to student aid further increases the demand for higher education, and the price sure shows it.

You will notice all the schools on this list are private. Public schools are more affordable but it should be noted they are climbing in price faster than private schools. Public 4-year in-state schools increased by 46.1% from 2000-2001 to 2009-2010, while private not-for-profit schools increased 30.8% over the same period.

Just looking at Tuition and Room & Board numbers, an additional 48 colleges passed the $50k mark this year, bringing the total to 82. As far as tuition, 43 colleges now charge over $40,000/year, compared to just 11 last year.

Most Expensive Colleges for 2010-2011

Students showing increased support for Marijuana Legalization

Over the last five years, surveys have shown that an increasing number of college students believe that marijuana should be legalized. Students were surveyed in 2004 and 2009 with results showing an increase from 37.2% to 45.6% for those in favor of marijuana legalization.

One of the more active student groups supporting legalization is Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Students for Sensible Drug Policy is “an international grassroots network of students who are concerned about the impact drug abuse has on our communities, but who also know that the War on Drugs is failing our generation and our society”.

Students for Sensible Drug Policy have joined in a movement across college campuses in support of Proposition 19, California's legalization measure to be voted on in November. The aim of the challenge is to collect signatures in support of the legalization of marijuana which will later be sent to the President to let him know how popular the issue is among students. More than 1,000 college chapters are participating.

Students Support Marijuana Legalization

Top Community Colleges

As more and more students are turning to community colleges to fulfill their higher education goals, students are seeing that learning in a smaller campus atmosphere they can get prompt feedback and better access to instructors.

Students are enrolling in community colleges for a number of reasons: the lower cost, the close location to home, and those recently unemployed are looking to gain new skills for the job market.

Nearly half of all American students begin their college careers at two-year institutions. There are about 1,200 community colleges nationwide educating approximately 12 million students.

Best Community Colleges

Most Popular Bachelor's Degrees by Gender

During the 2008-2009 school year there were a total of 1,601,367 bachelor's degrees handed out, according to a report released by the federal government. Of those degrees received, nearly 60% were earned by women.

The federal government (Dept. of Education) requires all post-secondary institutions who receive federal aid (Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, etc.) to complete the survey every year. It is this survey data that the public has access to when researching colleges.

Most Popular College Degrees by Gender

EWU rolls out the Red Turf

In an attempt to save money on field maintenance (but probably more of a publicity stunt) Eastern Washington University will be playing all of their home football games on their newly installed red turf.

The publicity stunt seems to have worked as EWU, a small state school, has received much national exposure by getting coverage in the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and ESPN. The attention they have received since announcing their plans for red turf has been phenomenal with an estimated 16 million people hearing about the project. If the turf were green, none of this happens.

The red turf is actually a green idea. Replacing the grass will allow Eastern to save an estimated 300,000 gallons of water per year and $12,000 a year in field maintenance.

Of course, Eastern Washington isn’t the first team playing on colored turf. Boise State and the University of New Haven both play on blue turf. But with red, some have shown concern that the turf will start to fade in a few years, leaving the team with a pink field.

EWU's Red Turf Football Field

Where to get eTextbooks

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Like it or not, eTextbooks will slowly replace traditional textbooks and become the way of the future. While digital textbook sales currently only account for a very small percentage of the textbook market, they are projected to reach 18.8% of the market by 2014.

As newer devices like the iPad are introduced, students are seeing they can read books in digital form all while saving money and reducing the weight of their book bags. But as it stands now, when it comes to studying, e-readers can’t match the functionality of traditional textbooks. E-readers may be fine for reading, but textbooks are seldom read like novels, which is why most students still prefer traditional textbooks.