State Auditor Shad White issued a report last week noting that the administrative spending of Mississippi public school districts is rising more rapidly than spending for instruction.
We and some others thought the report had flaws, and White responds to the criticism elsewhere on this site.
If the auditor, though, is looking for another education assignment, he ought to turn his investigators loose on the spending of the state’s eight universities, where tuition for 2019-20 is rising an average of 4 percent.
The universities are inviting the scrutiny. Their tuition increases keep rising faster than inflation, they keep saying what a good deal Mississippi students and their families are nevertheless getting, while all the while student debt is soaring. Sure, there is aid for students coming from lower income backgrounds, but a lot of this aid has to be paid back some day. The typical graduate of a Mississippi university finishes school with around $30,000 in debt — quite a hole for anyone with only a bachelor’s degree to dig out of. Such a high debt load could also be contributing to the increasing number of millennials who are leaving this state. Their college debt may be forcing them to seek employment where the salaries are generally higher.
Reasonable tuition increases are rarely reported in higher education, not just in Mississippi but all over the country. For every Purdue University — the Indiana school that has made it a policy since 2012 not to increase tuition, and is leaving its charges unchanged again for the coming school year — there are dozens of other universities and colleges whose tuition and other expenses go way up each year.
In just 10 years, in-state tuition has increased 71 percent in Mississippi. That’s almost three times faster than the average income of Mississippians has risen. Translated, it means that for all the boasts of university leaders about what a great deal Mississippi remains in higher education, for the average Mississippi family, trying to pay for this education is getting harder and harder to manage. That’s not a good trend for a state that already has too few college-educated residents compared to the rest of the country.
We suspect a lot could be turned up about waste and inefficiencies in higher education spending. Someone just needs to start looking for it.
How about it, Shad?