Showing posts with label economics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label economics. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

My 2024 Higher Education Finance Reading List (Robert Kelchen)

[Editor's note: This article first appeared at the Kelchen on Education blog.]

As a department head, I typically only teach one class per year. This spring, I get to teach my PhD class in higher education finance again—the eighth time that I have taught it in my eleven-year faculty career. Each time, I have updated the readings considerably as the field is moving quickly and I figure out what works best for the students. I use articles, working papers, news coverage, and other online resources to provide a current look at the state of higher education finance.

The format that I have taught the class using has also changed frequently over time due to what works best for the program and other events of the past several years. Here are reading lists from previous years and how I have taught the class:

Summer 2023: Accelerated five-week format, mix of asynchronous and online synchronous

Spring 2022: Online synchronous, meeting one evening per week

Spring 2020: Met one Saturday per month, started out in person but moved to Zoom halfway through due to the pandemic

Fall 2017: In person, meeting one evening per week

This spring, I am back to teaching the class in person one evening per week for the first time in nearly seven years. Here is the reading list I am assigning my students for the course. I link to the final versions of the articles whenever possible, but those without access to an academic library should note that earlier versions of many of these articles are available online via a quick Google search.

The higher education finance landscape and data sources

Chetty, R., Friedman, J. N., Saez, E., Turner, N., & Yagan, D. (2017). Mobility report cards: The role of colleges in intergenerational mobility. Working paper. (link)

Schanzenbach, D. W., Bauer, L., & Breitwieser, A. (2017). Eight economic facts on higher education. The Hamilton Project. (link)

Webber, D. A. (2021). A growing divide: The promise and pitfalls of higher education for the working class. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 695, 94-106. (link)

Recommended data sources:

College Scorecard: (underlying data at

Equality of Opportunity Project:


NCES Data Lab:

Postsecondary Value Commission’s Equitable Value Explorer:

ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer:

Urban Institute’s Data Explorer:

Institutional budgeting

Barr, M.J., & McClellan, G.S. (2010). Understanding budgets. In Budgets and financial management in higher education (pp. 55-85). Jossey-Bass. (link)

Jaquette, O., Kramer II, D. A., & Curs, B. R. (2018). Growing the pie? The effect of responsibility center management on tuition revenue. The Journal of Higher Education, 89(5), 637-676. (link)

Rutherford, A., & Rabovsky, T. (2018). Does the motivation for market-based reform matter? The case of responsibility-centered management. Public Administration Review, 78(4), 626-639. (link)

University of Tennessee System’s FY2024 budget:

University of Tennessee System’s FY2022 annual financial report:

UTK’s Budget Allocation Model (responsibility center management) website:

Higher education expenditures

Archibald, R. B., & Feldman, D. H. (2018). Drivers of the rising price of a college education. Midwestern Higher Education Compact. (link)

Commonfund Institute (2023). 2023 higher education price index. (link)

Griffith, A. L., & Rask, K. N. (2016). The effect of institutional expenditures on employment outcomes and earnings. Economic Inquiry, 54(4), 1931-1945. (link)

Hemelt, S. W., Stange, K. M., Furquim, F., Simon, A., & Sawyer, J. E. (2021). Why is math cheaper than English? Understanding cost differences in higher education. Journal of Labor Economics, 39(2), 397-435. (link)

Korn, M., Fuller, A., & Forsyth, J. S. (2023, August 10). Colleges spend like there’s no tomorrow. ‘These places are just devouring money.’ The Wall Street Journal. (link)

The financial viability of higher education

Britton, T., Rall, R. M., & Commodore, F. (2023). The keys to endurance: An investigation of the institutional factors relating to the persistence of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The Journal of Higher Education, 94(3), 310-332. (link)

Ducoff, N. (2019, December 9). Students pay the price if a college fails. So why are we protecting failing institutions? The Hechinger Report. (link)

Jesse, D., & Bauman, D. (2023, November 13). This small college was out of options. Will its creditors give it a break? The Chronicle of Higher Education. (link)

Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (2019). Final report & recommendations. Transitions in higher education: Safeguarding the interest of students (THESIS). (link)

Sullivan, G. W., & Stergios, J. (2019). A risky proposal for private colleges: Ten reasons why the Board of Higher Education must rethink its plan. Pioneer Institute. (link)

Tarrant, M., Bray, N., & Katsinas, S. (2018). The invisible colleges revisited: An empirical review. The Journal of Higher Education, 89(3), 341-367. (link)

State and sources of revenue

Chakrabarti, R., Gorton, N., & Lovenheim, M. F. (2020). State investment in higher education: Effects on human capital formation, student debt, and long-term financial outcomes of students. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 27885. (link)

Gándara, D. (2023). “One of the weakest budget players in the state”: State funding of higher education at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. (link)

Kelchen, R., Ortagus, J. C., Rosinger, K. O., Baker, D., & Lingo, M. (2023). The relationships between state higher education funding strategies and college access and success. Educational Researcher. (link)

Kunkle, K., & Laderman, S. (2023). State higher education finance: FY 2022. State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. (link)

Ortagus, J. C., Kelchen, R., Rosinger, K. O., & Voorhees, N. (2020). Performance-based funding in American higher education: A systematic synthesis of the intended and unintended consequences. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 42(4), 520-550. (link)

Tennessee’s outcomes-based funding formula:

Federal sources of revenue

Bergman, P., Denning, J. T., & Manoli, D. (2019). Is information enough? The effect of information about education tax benefits on student outcomes. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 38(3), 706-731. (link)

Black, S. E., Turner, L. J., & Denning, J. T. (2023). PLUS or minus? The effect of graduate school loans on access, attainment, and prices. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 31291. (link)

Graddy-Reed, A., Feldman, M., Bercovitz, J., & Langford, W. S. (2021). The distribution of indirect cost recovery in academic research. Science and Public Policy, 48(3), 364-386. (link)

Kelchen, R., & Liu, Z. (2022). Did gainful employment regulations result in college and program closures? Education Finance and Policy, 17(3), 454-478. (link)

Ward, J. D. (2019). Intended and unintended consequences of for-profit college regulation: Examining the 90/10 rule. Journal of Student Financial Aid, 48(3), Article 4. (link)

College pricing, tuition revenue, and endowments

Baker, D. J. (2020). “Name and shame”: An effective strategy for college tuition accountability? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 42(3), 1-24. (link)

Baum, S., & Lee, V. (2018). Understanding endowments. Urban Institute. (link)

Delaney, T., & Marcotte, D. E. (2023). The cost of public higher education and college enrollment. The Journal of Higher Education. (link)

Kelchen, R., & Pingel, S. (2023). Examining the effects of tuition controls on student enrollment. Research in Higher Education. (link)

Knox, L. (2023, December 4). Seeking an enrollment Hail Mary, small colleges look to athletics. Inside Higher Ed. (link)

Ma, J., & Pender, M. (2023). Trends in college pricing and student aid 2023. (link)

Webber, D. A. (2017). State divestment and tuition at public institutions. Economics of Education Review, 60, 1-4. (link)

Financial aid policies, practices, and impacts

Anderson, D. M., Broton, K. M., Goldrick-Rab, S., & Kelchen, R. (2020). Experimental evidence on the impacts of need-based financial aid: Longitudinal assessment of the Wisconsin Scholars Grant. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 39(3), 720-739. (link)

Billings, M. S., Clayton, A. B., & Worsham, R. (2022). FAFSA and beyond: How advisers manage their administrative burden in the financial aid process. Journal of Student Financial Aid, 51(2), Article 2. (link)

Dynarski, S., Page, L. C., & Scott-Clayton, J. (2022). College costs, financial aid, and student decisions. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 30275. (link)

LaSota, R. R., Polanin, J. R., Perna, L. W., Austin, M. J., Steingut, R. R., & Rodgers, M. A. (2022). The effects of losing postsecondary student grant aid: Results from a systematic review. Educational Researcher, 51(2), 160-168. (link)

Page, L. C., Sacerdote, B. I, Goldrick-Rab, S., & Castleman, B. L. (2023). Financial aid nudges: A national experiment with informational interventions. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 45(2), 195-219. (link)

Student debt and financing college

Baker, D. J. (2019). When average is not enough: A case study examining the variation in the influences on undergraduate debt burden. AERA Open, 5(2), 1-26. (link)

Black, S. E., Denning, J. T., Dettling, L. J., Goodman, S., & Turner, L. (2020). Taking it to the limit: Effects of increased student loan availability on attainment, earnings, and financial well-being. American Economic Review, 113(12), 3357-3400. (link)

Boatman, A., Evans, B. J., & Soliz, A. (2017). Understanding loan aversion in education: Evidence from high school seniors, community college students, and adults. AERA Open, 3(1), 1-16. (link)

Dinerstein, M., Yannelis, C., & Chen, C. (2023). Debt moratoria: Evidence from student loan forbearance. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 31247. (link)

Levine, P. B., & Ritter, D. (2023). The racial wealth gap, financial aid, and college access. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. (link)

Free college/college promise programs

Carruthers, C. K., Fox, W. F., & Jepsen, C. (2023). What Knox achieved: Estimated effects of tuition-free community college on attainment and earnings. The Journal of Human Resources. (link)

Gándara, D., & Li, A. Y. (2020). Promise for whom? “Free-college” programs and enrollments by race and gender classifications at public, 2-year colleges. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 42(4), 603-627. (link)

Monaghan, D. B. (2023). How well do students understand “free community college”? Promise programs as informational interventions. AERA Open, 9(1), 1-13. (link)

Murphy, R., Scott-Clayton, J., & Wyness, G. (2017). Lessons from the end of free college in England. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution. (link)

Perna, L. W., Leigh, E. W., & Carroll, S. (2018). “Free college:” A new and improved state approach to increasing educational attainment? American Behavioral Scientist, 61(14), 1740-1756. (link)

Map of college promise/free college programs (Penn AHEAD) (link)

Returns to education

Conzelmann, J. G., Hemelt, S. W., Hershbein, B. J., Martin, S., Simon, A., & Stange, K. M. (2023). Grads on the go: Measuring college-specific labor markets for graduates. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. (link)

Darity, Jr., W. A., & Underwood, M. (2021). Reconsidering the relationship between higher education, earnings, and productivity. Postsecondary Value Commission. (link)

Deterding, N. M., & Pedulla, D. S. (2016). Educational authority in the “open door” marketplace: Labor market consequences of for-profit, nonprofit, and fictional educational credentials. Sociology of Education, 89(3), 155-170. (link)

Ma, J., & Pender, M. (2023). Education pays 2023: The benefits of higher education for individuals and society. The College Board. (link)

Webber, D. A. (2016). Are college costs worth it? How ability, major, and debt affect the returns to schooling. Economics of Education Review, 53, 296-310. (link)

Sunday, November 20, 2022

University of California Academic Workers Strike For Economic Justice (November 14 to December 23, 2022)

This space was here to lend a voice to the 48,000 academic workers from the University of California system who started their strike on November 14th.  Graduate student workers remained on the picket line for nearly six weeks before voting yes to an agreement on December 23.        

This group of UC employees was not the first or the last collective of academic workers to strike, but their struggle has become a model for other academic union campaigns.  The Higher Education Inquirer has been in solidarity with this effort for economic justice, where unfair labor practices are commonplace and systemic.  

The outcome of the long University of California strike was a solid victory for democratic action--but not surprisingly, some of the most vulnerable workers received the least in return for their efforts. 

There were many takeaways--lessons learned--in this long fight--a fight that was years in the making--and that must continue. Imagine if adjuncts, students, rank-and-file workers, organized labor, and other related communities fought just as hard (and smart) to reduce homelessness, hunger, hate and violence, debt, and precarity.

Elite Universities and the Systematic Exploitation of Labor 

US mainstream media have rarely acknowledged the plight of non-tenured academic workers--who go by a number of titles. This precariat teaches undergraduate students and does much of the research at universities, including elite US universities, for modest wages and limited job security.  

While elite private and public schools have gained enormous power and wealth, many contingent academic laborers often struggle just paying their bills. Grad student workers have shared stories of living in their cars, commuting long distances, and enduring other hardships while working through school.

In order to get economic justice, academic workers have struggled for union representation and equitable labor contracts--with limited results.    

The original strikers consisted of four bargaining units with about 48,000 workers: 

*Academic student employees (teaching assistants/readers/tutors) UAW2865

*Graduate student researchers SRU-UAW 

*Postdoctoral scholars and Academic researchers UAW5810

Image from Fair UC

Workers versus Elites

At the first draft of this article (11-20-22), the union and their bosses, the University of California Regents, were far from a settlement.  We expected UC officials to engage in a variety of anti-union strategies despite claims that they were bargaining in good faith.  True to form, that's what happened. 

Mainstream local media attention has occurred, but few sources have given much thought to the history of politics, academic power, and wealth--and their links to poor labor conditions: long and irregular hours, low-wages, and wage theft at University of California campuses. 

Organized workers in the UC system have also had to fight systemic harassment and intimidation, systemic racism, and threats of deportation. In the not-too-distant past, UC workers claimed the UC system spent millions of dollars on union busting firms and employed "activist response teams" that included police officials and administrators to watch striking workers.  

Governor Gavin Newsom and the 18 Regents of the UC system represent the major political and economic interests of the State of California--and the adversaries of labor.  In this situation they have an enormous amount of power but were mostly invisible to the media.   

California History

According to University of California Santa Barbara labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein, about 10 percent of the UC's budget is funded by the State of California, down from more than 50 percent in its peak year, 1963.  Other elite universities have replicated this model.

Californians have also experienced growing inequality (including high rents and college tuition) for more than a half century, since the rise of Ronald Reagan (1967-1975) and the movement to reduce taxes and defund higher education. 

During Reagan's second term as Governor of California, a 1973 California Supreme Court ruling opened the floodgates for landlords to charge unaffordable rents. 

Proposition 13 (1978), which limited residential and commercial property taxes, added insult to injury. And Proposition 209 (1996) was a near fatal blow to equality and social justice in the Golden State. 

Labor and the UC System 

UAW Local 2865, the union of teaching assistants, graduate student instructors, tutors, and readers in the University of California system was formed in 2000.  UAW 5810, the union of postdoctoral scholars and academic researchers, was formed in 2008.

By 2018, UAW 2865 grew to majority membership statewide and won a new contract with new rights in several areas.  

In July 2021, the UC system boasted that it had grown to $168 Billion in assets. Four months later, 6,000 UC part-time lecturers prepared to strike for better wages and more stability. Median wages for the contingent lecturers were $19,000 a year. The settlement between the UC system and University Council-American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT) called for a 30 percent increase in wages over 5 years with promises of more stability.  

UAW 2865 has attempted to negotiate with the UC system--who for weeks offered concessions that would not even cover inflation. Worker salaries vary, but some make as little as $24,000 a year, in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, where housing is extremely unaffordable. 

Bargaining for a Fair UC document lists worker proposals and UC's proposals.  

The 2022 Strike

As the strike has developed, the system has employed a number of tactics, including divide and conquer actions and a number of appeals to the media and the public. We expect the mainstream media to side more with the system it serves rather than the people who do the hardest work but get the lowest pay.   

Initially, many senior faculty and other unions serving the University of California refused to cross picket lines in solidarity with the UAW strikers. 

Stanford University marching band spells out "UAW" during Stanford-Cal football game on November 19, 2022 at California Memorial Stadium.  Image courtesy Rafael Jaime, President of UAW 2865.  

Second week of the strike.  UC workers at the University of California, San Diego, November 21, 2022

 Week 3 of the strike.  UC workers at UCLA, November 27, 2022

On November 29th, the UAW 5810 gained a tentative agreement and received significant wage increases for postdocs and academic researchers--12,000 of the 48,000 workers.  Meanwhile, the UC system had made no additional concessions to lower status graduate student workers.    

On November 30, UC officials made few concessions to the graduate students. Student Researchers United (SRU) and UAW 2865 bargaining teams made major concessions, to include:

  • Dropping dependent healthcare coverage completely
  • Dropping the childcare subsidy from $6,000 per quarter to $3,300
  • Dropping the base wage demand from $54,000 to $43,000 

Week 3 letter from UCSC4COLA to UC workers encouraging them to continue and informing them that they can expect pushback from a number of fronts.  

Fox News used the UC strike as a reason to attack liberal higher education and labor power, noting the layers of administrative bloat at elite universities, the salaries of tenured professors, and the schools' reliance on foreign students--but using an ahistorial, white supremacist frame. 

On December 1, strikers occupied the UC Berkeley Chancellor's Office, leaving the next morning.  

On December 2, one thousand UC faculty asked Governor Gavin Newsom to support the academic workers in winning their demands.


Week 4 of the UC Strike (Finals Week).  Hundreds of workers in Sacramento and sit-ins at two President's offices, December 5, 2022.  That night, police arrested 17 UC protestors in Sacramento, for trespassing.  

On December 5, the UK Guardian published an opinion piece by renowned labor historian and University of California, Santa Barbara professor Nelson Lichtenstein calling the UC strike "by far the largest and most important strike in the history of American higher education."  That night, 17 protestors were arrested at the University of California President's Office in Sacramento, for trespassing.   

On December 6, the UC strike received 6 minutes of attention from the PBS News Hour.   UC strikers began planning for a "long-haul" strike and would continue to withhold their labor (grading exams) as finals weeks ends.  At least 400 UC Faculty Senate members have also agreed not to break the picket line, leaving more than 30,0000 grades uncompleted.  

On December 7, 10 strikers were arrested after entering the office of UC Regent & Chair of the UC Investment Committee Richard Sherman demanding fair contracts.

On Friday December 9, the UAW unions and administrators agreed to mediation.  The Associated Press reported that the postdocs and researchers would not return to work until all the bargaining units had gotten an agreement.  NBC News (print version) highlighted the effects of the strike on disrupting the university's operations and hurting undergraduates, with the workers struggle buried in the article.  Other news outlets framed the story as a disruption causing stress to undergraduates.  

In week 5, the number of strikers were reduced as 12,000 postdocs and academic researchers crossed the picket line after reaching an agreement with the Regents the previous week.  Remaining strikers, who had received little attention from the Regents, vowed not to stop, preparing for a large event, the Regents Romp, at UCLA on Wednesday, December 14.  Workers continued to be arrested as they spoke out about their economic hardships.  

On December 16, the graduate student workers reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) with the University of California but remained on the picket line until a new contract was ratified.  

On December 23, the strike ended after the agreement with graduate student workers was ratified.  According to the LA Times, 68 percent of the graduate student researchers (SRU) voted yes to the agreement, with a vote of 10,057 to 4,640.  UAW 2865, the union of teaching assistants, tutors and other student academic workers, approved their agreement with 61.6 voting yes, 11,386 to 7,097.  For future workers, the gains were substantial, more than 50 percent over two years. Some workers, however, said the TA did not lift them out of poverty.  

Related links: 

Rank and File Action-UC (Facebook) 

Rank and File Action-UC (Twitter)

UAW 2865

UAW 2865 (Twitter) 

Student Researchers United-UAW (Twitter) 

UAW 5810 

UAW 5810 (Twitter) 

UCSC4COLA (Twitter) 


Bargaining for a FAIR UC

Thousands of academics strike in California: how is research affected? (Max Kozlov, Nature) 

Historic Strike Launched at University of California (TYT) 

The University of California Strike Has Been 50 Years in the Making (Alissa Walker, Curbed)

From Master Plan to No Plan: The Slow Death of Public Higher Education (Aaron Bady and Mike Konczal, Dissent)

History of Rent Protections in California (No Place Like Home)

UC Davis students and employees to gather to protest against union busting (Hannah Strumwasser, The Aggie)

Labor Notes

The Power of Recognizing Higher Ed Faculty as Working-Class (Helena Worthen) 

Con Job: Stories of Adjunct and Contingent Faculty

University of California strike is massive example of how Golden State problems are warning to rest of nation (Chuck DeVore, Fox News)

Statement by UAW Bargaining Team Members at UCSC  

Student Workers on Strike at UCLA (Sarah Michelson, KNOCKLA)

Closed labs, cancelled classes: inside the largest strike to hit US higher education (Dani Anguiano, The Guardian) 

More than 1,000 UC faculty members urge Newsom, lawmakers to support striking academic workers (Debbie Truong and Mackenzie Mays, LA Times)

“We Sold Out the People Who Elected Us”: UC Bargaining Team Member Speaks Out About Union Concessions (Janna Haider, Left Voice)

The California academic strike is the most important in US higher education history (Nelson Lichtenstein, The Guardian)

Sit-In | UC Workers Strike enters 4th week with 50,000 walking out (ABC-10,  Sacramento, December 5, 2022)

UCSC academic workers focus on ‘long-haul strike’ as job action shifts to withholding grades, exams (Hillary Ojeda, Santa Cruz Lookout)