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NCES Releases New Data on Higher Education Finance

March 3, 2017

A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) illuminates primary sources of revenue for institutions of higher education, as well as sources of expenses.

In FY15, private, nonprofit four-year institutions received 34.9 percent of their total revenue from tuition and fees, according to provisional data in the First Look report from NCES. Public four-year institutions and administrative offices received 21.7 percent of total operating revenue from tuition and fees, while public two-year institutions received 16.5 percent of operating revenue from tuition and fees. Private for-profit institutions received 90.1 percent of total revenue from tuition and fees.

Other notable sources of total revenue for private nonprofit institutions included hospital revenue (12 percent), investment return (10.7 percent), private gifts (9.8 percent), and total government grants and contracts (9 percent, 8.2 percent federal).

In addition to tuition and fees, four-year public institutions and administrative offices received 14.8 percent of total operating revenue from grants and contracts (8.7 percent federal) and 13.8 percent of operating revenue from hospital sales and services. The largest other source of non-operating revenue was appropriations (18.9 percent, 18.1 percent state). In addition, 5.1 percent of non-operating revenue came from non-operating grants, 2.7 percent from gifts, and 0.3 percent from investment income.

The public two-year sector received 7.3 percent of operating revenue from grants and contracts (3.3 percent local); this was the other major source of operating revenue beyond tuition and fees. The largest source of non-operating revenue was appropriations (44 percent, of which 25 percent was state, 18.9 percent local, and 0.2 percent federal). Non-operating grants made up another 21 percent of non-operating revenue.

In terms of total expenses, private, nonprofit four-year institutions’ instructional costs were 32.4 percent of their total expenses in FY15. Instructional costs made up 29.3 percent of total expenses for public four-year institutions and administrative offices, 37 percent for public two-year institutions, and 25.5 percent for private for-profit institutions.

The report also offers provisional statistics on employee staffing. In fall 2015, colleges and universities employed 3,983,174 total staff. Of that total, 2,551,861 were full-time. The largest number of employees (1,471,073) were classified as instructional.

The full First Look report, which also includes preliminary data on enrollment and academic libraries, is available online.

Contact

Lesley McBain
Assistant Director, Research and Policy Analysis
202.861.2596
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