Common Myths about the Price of Professors

the truth about tuition increases and professor salaries

Increases in tuition costs have caused many to question what they’re actually paying for when they attend a higher education institution. Many people believe that significant salary increases for faculty members are causing higher tuition rates. In reality though, faculty salaries are not driving tuition increases. The main reason for the rise of tuition costs is declining support from outside resources such as private endowments and state appropriations. Here are a few myths about the profession of university faculty members and the real cause of rising tuition costs:

1. Faculty Salaries Are Too High

Next to professionals in comparable industries, university professors, even those with tenure, are underpaid. According to the Annual Report on the Economic Status of Profession, 2014-15 prepared by the American Association of University Professors, instructional salaries only account for about a third of a university’s costs. From the 2008-09 academic year to the 2012-13 academic year, the average net price for tuition rose by about 10%. If teacher salaries were causing this increase, then we should see a similar jump in faculty pay. The average salary growth for public institutions was only 5.62% in the same period of time.

While professors aren’t receiving significant salary increases, senior administrators at universities are. According to the Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession from last year, CEOs at public institutions saw a salary increase of 75% over the course of 35 years. CEOs at non-profit private institutions received a 175% salary increase in that same time. Check out this table for compared ratios of professors to that of university presidents.

2. Professors Don’t Work 40 Hours A Week

Many people believe that professors are overpaid because they don’t really work full-time. However, they don’t consider all of the work faculty members do outside the classroom. While professors may only teach classes 15 or 20 hours a week, they often work over 40 hours a week. Along with personal development, professors must also develop lesson plans, prepare lectures, grade assignments, and field questions and office visits from their students.

3. Faculty Benefits Drive the Cost of Tuition Up

About 31% of an institution’s budget goes towards instructors. Of that 31% of total compensation, only about 30% represents benefits for faculty. Over a five-year period the benefits for full-time faculty increased by 5.76%. This modest increase in faculty benefits does not account for the significant increase in tuition costs.

At the Catholic Benefits Trust (CBT), we understand the reality of higher education tuition costs. We can help your institution and faculty members get the support you need to provide decent healthcare plans. Learn more about our partnership with the Franciscan University of Steubenville or contact us!

Catholic Benefits Trust