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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What Does $60,000/Year Buy You at Duke?

Duke University LogoNPR, Duke: $60,000 a Year for College Is Actually a Discount:

In 1984, it cost $10,000 a year to go to Duke University. Today, it's $60,000 a year. "It's staggering," says Duke freshman Max Duncan, "especially considering that's for four years." But according to Jim Roberts, executive vice provost at Duke, that's actually a discount. "We're investing on average about $90,000 in the education of each student," he says. Roberts is not alone in making the claim. In fact, it's one most elite research institutions point to when asked about rising tuition. But just where exactly is all that money going?

Duke 1

Duke 2

So if you're a student at Duke, are you getting a massive discount on the cost of your education? Or are you subsidizing a giant educational edifice that you as an undergraduate student will barely come into contact with?

The answer sort of depends on what kind of student you are.

If you're engaged in research and capitalizing on your professors' expertise, maybe you're getting something that's worth more than what you paid. If you've got a good financial aid package, you're definitely getting a good deal. But if you're a full-paying student, who's not learning much from professors outside the classroom, it's the university that's getting the deal.

(Hat Tip: Gary Saxer.)

Legal Education | Permalink


Duke is a world class, major research university, and whether that justifies the cost to undergrads is a legitimate debate. But, my question is: why do tiny , non-research based liberal arts colleges that lack the "large educational edifice," such as Vassar, Amherst, Grinnell, etc., cost a similar amount per year? Why the heck do THEY cost so damn much??? They are getting a hell of a deal with all of those non-STEM puff majors they churn out each year...

Posted by: Anon | Feb 23, 2014 9:06:02 PM

If Duke were really spending 90,000 on each student and taking in 60,000 or less, they would be bankrupt within a year. Somebody's lying, and it isn't hard to guess who.

Posted by: michael livingston | Feb 24, 2014 5:14:31 AM

Putting aside my Carolina Blue tinted lenses, it really is disingenuous of any university, especially duke, to say that the expense of the researchers falls on undergrad tuition. In 2010 duke received around $983 million in research funding. Yet the provost wants to say the cost of bringing a research professor on-board should be allocated solely to the undergrads? This view dismisses all the revenue that may be generated from the results of said researcher. Sure the undergrads might get some prestige due to the bump in overall university prestige, but there is no direct 1 for 1 correlation between the expenditures for research profs and gain to undergrads. So why is the cost a one for one revenue and expense to the undergrad. This is a shockingly lazy excuse for high tuition costs.

Posted by: Daniel Waters | Feb 24, 2014 7:02:48 AM

Looking at ever accelerating tuition inflation, its increasingly desperate/fevered defenders, and the inevitable is difficult not to think of the Legal Educational Industrial Complex as dying of autoerotic asphyxiation

Posted by: cas127 | Feb 25, 2014 8:24:55 PM