As the price of college rises, Virginia students are paying for more than education.
The escalating cost of a college education strains family finances and saddles too many students with enormous debt as they enter the working world. But how much of that cost is directly related to course instruction, and how much comes from amenities that enrich the college experience and help schools win marketing battles against their peers?
With concerns about access and affordability ringing in their ears, state lawmakers last year directed the General Assembly’s watchdog agency to look behind the price tags at Virginia’s public colleges and identify opportunities to reduce costs. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission staff has found that the biggest drivers of spending increases in the past two decades were not tied directly to instruction, but instead were student-funded “auxiliary enterprises” such as housing, dining and intercollegiate athletics.