How Dartmouth’s president is trying to cut the rising cost of college

Posted on February 10th, 2015

Given that colleges are the ones raising tuition every year, it’s not every day that you hear a college president coming out against rising college costs–especially one from an elite (and very expensive) Ivy League university.

But Philip Hanlon isn’t your average college president.

Rising college costs are ‘unsustainable’

Hanlon is the president of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, where costs have gone up tenfold since 1981.

Annual growth in undergraduate tuition, fees and room and board at Dartmouth from 2005 to 2015. (Courtesy of Dartmouth)

Like other elite universities, Dartmouth’s costs have risen dramatically. (Courtesy of Dartmouth)

While Dartmouth’s own costs have risen, you won’t hear Hanlon defending the high increase in tuition and fees.

He says that rising costs at Dartmouth and other colleges are “unsustainable” and believes colleges need to figure out how to reduce their spending, rather than shifting the burden onto students.

This historic funding model of having the costs go up that much, the sticker price go up that much, is unsustainable and probably near the breaking point.

Colleges: reduce spending, don’t raise prices

Hanlon says that the biggest problem for universities like Dartmouth is that they’ve continued to add new departments without cutting old ones, therefore leading to rising spending. This increased spending has caused them to increase tuition to cover costs.

In this interesting podcast from 90.9 wbur, Hanlon explains how he encouraged departments at Dartmouth to reallocate 1-2% of their resources each year to new programs in order to control spending and make more efficient use of the college’s resources.

Hanlon’s initiative represents a step in the right direction for controlling college costs.

We hope to see more innovative programs from influential college leaders who understand that it’s irresponsible to keep increasing costs and putting the burden on students.

Category: College Costs

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