Inflation slows for higher education

Despite a jump in the price of supplies and materials, the cost of doing business for U.S. colleges and universities rose at a slower rate in fiscal 2007, a new report says.

The Higher Education Price Index, compiled by the Commonfund Institute, placed inflation at 3.4 percent for the year ending June 30, down from 5 percent in fiscal 2006.

The index, similar to the Consumer Price Index, measures prices in eight different categories of spending in higher education to determine inflation rates tailored to the sector.

Those categories include salaries and fringe benefits for faculty, administrators, clerical and service staff, as well as utilities, miscellaneous services and supplies and materials.

Inflation rose in all categories of costs in fiscal 2007, with the exception of utilities, which showed a negative rate of 7.6 percent compared to 2006, due in large part to skyrocketing fuel prices following the natural disasters of 2005, the report says.

Materials and supplies saw the highest inflation rate at 6.8 percent for 2007.

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