Michigan, 2000 and 2004 in Current U.S Dollars

Institution

Expenditures per FTE 2000

Expenditures per FTE 2004

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

$85,028

$99,478

Michigan State University

29,222

31,790

Wayne State University

29,599

30,115

Michigan Technological University

25,460

25,771

Western Michigan University

15,534

17,897

Lake Superior State University

15,628

17,118

Ferris State University

18,725

16,891

University of Michigan-Dearborn

13,444

15,872

University of Michigan-Flint

13,423

15,772

Northern Michigan University

15,120

15,100

Eastern Michigan University

13,030

15,065

Central Michigan University

11,911

12,986

Oakland University

12,546

12,663

Grand Valley State University

12,589

12,362

Saginaw Valley State University

10,611

11,596

Michigan Average

$21,458

$23,365

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), http://nces.ed.gov/ipedspas accessed March 2007.

The data raise as many questions as answers. Why did revenues rise faster than spending, and what happened to the difference? Why does, say, Western Michigan University spend 37.8 percent more per student than Central Michigan University, a school that most people consider similar to Western? Does the added per-student spending at Western lead to better student outcomes, and better jobs?

Are the enormous expenditures at U of M-Ann Arbor justified? Are they out of line with other Big Ten research institutions, such as the University of Illinois, Ohio State University and the University of Wisconsin? If the education at Central Michigan, Oakland University and Grand Valley State University is roughly comparable to Eastern or Western Michigan, why cannot the latter institutions operate on a similar cost basis? Should students attending institutions that are expensive to operate (especially the University of Michigan) pay dramatically more than students attending other institutions, even beyond the current tuition disparities? How does such expensive education comport with a desire to provide access to students of ordinary or limited means?

More generally, given that the state spends more than $1.7 billion annually on operations at these institutions, is anyone in Michigan analyzing these numbers to find answers to these and similar questions? If not, why not? This is an especially important question to answer when policymakers are being urged to spend even more as a means of generating economic growth.

It should be added that the tables above just scratch the surface of analysis that is possible with the available data. There is some breakdown in the financial information by categories, and there is also other interesting information on staffing levels and, at least inferentially, salaries paid. Some preliminary analysis that we have done using national data would indicate that, over time, the instructional function has been deemphasized at universities, that spending on administration has risen sharply[1] and that tuition fees actually more than cover faculty salaries. All of this cries out for greater analysis in the context of Michigan.