Urban Fold

The Costs of the Higher Education Building Binge

After a decade-long construction arms race at the nation's institutions of higher education, The New York Times looks at what happens when the creditors come calling.
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While the apartment-style dormitories, lavish recreational centers, and state-of-the-art academic buildings may serve the needs of those college administrators suffering from "Taj Mahal syndrome," the results of a decade-long spending binge on campuses across the country aren't pretty for students, tax payers, or college finances, reports Andrew Martin. 

Although America's increasing student loan debt has been a popular topic of conversation, "some colleges and universities have also borrowed heavily, spending money on vast expansions and amenities aimed at luring better students: student unions with movie theaters and wine bars; workout facilities with climbing walls and 'lazy rivers'; and dormitories with single rooms and private baths," says Martin. "Spending on instruction has grown at a much slower pace, studies have shown. Students end up covering some, if not most, of the debt payments in the form of higher tuition, room and board and special assessments, while in some instances state taxpayers pick up the costs."

"With revenue pinched at institutions big and small, financial experts and college officials are sounding alarms about the consequences of the spending and borrowing. Last month, Harvard University officials warned of 'rapid, disorienting change' at colleges and universities."

Full Story: Building a Showcase Campus, Using an I.O.U.


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