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Costs to operate colleges on the rise

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Commonfund Institute

Commonfund Institute

Reversing a recent trend of falling prices over the last three years, it is again becoming more expensive to operate U.S. colleges and universities, a new study says.

The inflation rate for institutions of higher education rose to 2.3 percent in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2011, more than doubling the rate of 0.9 percent for 2010, according to the Higher Education Price Index published by the Commonfund Institute.

The index tracks the average prices of a set of eight goods and services purchased by colleges and universities to run their institutions.

Those goods and services are faculty salaries, clerical salaries, service-employee salaries, fringe benefits, miscellaneous services, utilities, and supplies and materials.

Prices rose for all cost categories, with the exception of administrative salaries and service-employee salaries, with several categories seeing large spikes.

Costs for utilities increased 8.1 percent in fiscal 2011, compared to a deflation rate of negative 9.5 percent the year before, while supplies and materials saw an inflation rate of 8.1 percent in 2011, up from a price drop of 1.3 percent in 2010.

The East South Central region of the U.S., which is home to Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, absorbed the highest inflation rate of 3.4 percent among the country’s nine regions.

The West South Central region, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, saw the lowest inflation rate of 1.4 percent.

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