November 30, 2011

$10 Giftcard for spending $50 at Target

Right now you can get a coupon on line for a free $10 gift card after spending $50 at a Target store.

Get the coupon here

Target is a big enough merchant with enough stuff at reasonable prices that I'm sure most people shop there on and off.  Seems that spending $50 there would be easy for most so this amounts to $10 for free for a lot of people.

I found this deal on Fatwallet.

College Spending - Net Tuition Versus Subsidies by State

Can you guess which states have the highest and lowest subsidizes per student for their colleges?    I would have thought California would have spend the most but I was wrong.   I found  the data from Trends in College Spending 1999 to 2009 from the Delta Project   I got the data below out of figure 19 from their report.

Below is a table listing each state and giving the average amount of spending per student looking at Net tuition versus state subsidies.  This data is specific to public research universities and smaller schools will differ.

State Net Tuition Subsidy Student share
USA  $   8,030  $  7,889 50%
AK  $   5,126  $20,283 20%
AL  $   8,358  $ 11,356 42%
AR  $   5,685  $   5,411 51%
AZ  $   7,109  $   6,311 53%
CA  $  8,268  $ 14,144 37%
CO  $ 11,214  $   3,863 74%
CT  $   9,624  $ 17,935 35%
DE  $ 14,039  $   8,027 64%
FL  $   4,785  $   7,183 40%
GA  $   6,611  $   5,862 53%
HI  $   6,471  $ 14,948 30%
IA  $   8,450  $   7,682 52%
ID  $   5,186  $   8,154 39%
Il  $   9,592  $   9,133 51%
IN  $   9,589  $   8,424 53%
KS  $   6,911  $   6,575 51%
KY  $   8,565  $  8,928 49%
LA  $   4,726  $   7,296 39%
MA  $ 10,205  $   6,312 62%
MD  $   7,468  $   8,071 48%
ME  $   8,069  $   5,296 60%
MI  $10,364  $   6,187 63%
MN  $11,141  $ 14,375 44%
MO  $  8,743  $   7,077 55%
MS  $   6,020  $   5,786 51%
MT  $   7,827  $   3,408 70%
NC  $   6,115  $ 11,723 34%
ND  $  7,627  $   7,024 52%
NE  $   5,484  $   6,238 47%
NH  $ 11,644  $   3,181 79%
NJ  $ 12,490  $   5,057 71%
NM  $   4,709  $   7,520 39%
NV  $   6,534  $ 10,637 38%
Ny  $   5,610  $ 15,421 27%
OH  $   9,947  $   5,908 63%
OK  $   7,427  $   5,962 55%
OR  $   8,458  $   3,733 69%
PA  $ 14,479  $   6,065 70%
RI  $ 11,813  $   1,828 87%
SC  $ 11,214  $   3,863 74%
SD  $   5,782  $   6,183 48%
TN  $   6,737  $ 11,115 38%
TX  $   7,148  $   5,636 56%
UT  $  5,129  $   8,760 37%
VA  $   9,602  $   6,305 60%
VT  $ 17,797  $   4,395 80%
WA  $ 10,192  $ 14,134 42%
WI  $   7,624  $   6,865 53%
WV  $   9,227  $   3,863 70%
WY  $   4,310  $ 14,021 24%

As you can see there is a huge difference from state to state. 

Net tuition varies from $4,310 in Wyoming up to $17,797 in Vermont.

Subsidy levels range from just $1,828 in Rhode Island all the way up to $20,283 in oil rich Alaska.   
Alaksa has the lowest % share paid by students at 20% and Rhode Island students pay the most at 87%.


November 29, 2011

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch : Is it really a Vast trash dump?

Note : Today's topic has nothing much to do with personal finances.   

Have you heard about the  so called Great Pacific Garbage Patch?   Theres a large amount of trash floating around out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.   By some accounts there is a giant pile of trash the size of America floating in the middle of the Ocean.   If you picture this in your mind you get an image of a vast expanse of junk for as far as the eye can see.  

Sometimes when people talk about the Giant garbage patch you'll see close up images showing a bunch of garbage floating in water.   In fact you really only see close up images of floating trash or pictures of individual pieces of trash.   Worse yet if you do a Google search for images for "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" then you get a lot of pictures of piles of trash floating near beaches which certainly are NOT in the middle of the ocean.    If this garbage patch was so big and dense then wouldn't we be seeing real aerial photos of vast amounts of trash?   Why only close up or fake pictures?   The reason is that the amount of trash out there isn't all that much relative to the vast size of the ocean.    There aren't large clumps of junk nor vast areas covered in trash.  

How much trash is there really?    How dense is the trash really?   

From some accounts the garbage patch is supposed to be 2 times the size of Texas.   Or maybe not, it could be only twice the size of Hawaii.    Texas versus Hawaii is a pretty large margin of error in the estimates.  

How much garbage there is is another measure.   According to this report there is 5,114 g / km sq in the area.   I'm not sure how accurate that measurement is but its one of the only ones I could find.

Disclaimer:  I'm using rough math here.   I'm starting with estimates ranging from the size of Texas to the size of Hawaii so I think that rough figures are good enough.

For discussion sake lets assume that its twice as big as Texas and the 5,114 g/km sq figure is accurate.   Texas is 695,622 km sq. or twice that is 1,391,244 km sq total.  Then that would mean there is 7,114,821 kg or about 15.6 Million pounds of waste floating in the area.   From Wikipedia, : "Americans generate more waste than any other nation in the world with 4.5 pounds of municipal solid waste (MSW) per person per day" So per person we put out 4.5 pounds of trash a day. There are around 300 million people so thats 1.35 Billion pounds of trash a day.   The mass of the trash floating in the Great garbage patch is equal to roughly 1% of Americas daily trash output.   That could be a worst case scenario.    

Of course by comparing the amount of trash to American trash output I'm not meaning to imply that all the trash came from America either.   Many countries border the Pacific and contribute to the trash and much of the trash is from ships not owned by America.

Lets go back to that 5,114 g / km sq figure.   5,114 g in a Km squared is not a lot.    KM squared is a very large area.  Thats 1,000,000 square meters.  That means theres roughly 0.005 grams per squared meter.   A gram is actually a very small amount so 0.005 grams is extremely small.   A zip lock bag ways about 1-2 grams.  So we're talking about a piece of plastic which is about 1/200th to 1/400th the size of a 3" square zip lock bag.   That would amount to something about 30 sq milimeters.  Or a speck of plastic roughly 5x6 mm.

Lets see what a 5 mm x 6mm fleck of plastic looks like. 
Here the size of the average amount of trash per square meter compared to a penny: 

I put the speck of plastic in a field that is too scale proportional to 1 meter square and it looks like the picture below.  This gives you an idea of the density of trash in the Giant Garbage Patch. :

Well it kinda looks like that when I size the image so it can actually fit in this blog it makes the bit of plastic sooo tiny that you can't see it so I had to circle it in orange so something would actually show up.

One research expedition by the Algalita Marine Research Foundation traveled 2,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic and reported  "During the expedition, 100 pieces of floating marine debris were sighted."  On average thats 1 item spotted per 20 miles traveled.   Keep in mind this is a research foundation which is trying to bring attention to the problem so they aren't likely to under report the amount of trash.  Hardly a vast see of junk.    But again it should be stressed that much of the trash in the ocean is small bits and a lot of it is below the surface.  

There isn't a vast giant pile of trash floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.    There is however tons and tons of plastic bits that are floating out in the ocean.   The ocean his so vast that those little plastic bits are more often tiny bits of plastic or maybe a single discarded mylar balloon every few miles.

Please don't misunderstand me.... any amount of plastic floating around in the ocean is not a good thing.   The more plastic out there the more harm it does to fish and wildlife and contaminates the environment.

November 28, 2011

Natural Gas Prices by State

Yesterday I showed the historical trend for natural gas prices nationally.   Today I'll continue the fascinating discussion of natural gas prices by looking at the price for each state.   I once again got the information from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

For comparison also see my previous article on average electricity cost by state.

Below are the prices for each state in dollars per 1000 cubic feet of natural gas.   These are average residential rates per state.

2010 2009
U.S.A 11.21 12.14
Alabama 15.92 18.12
Alaska 8.89 10.23
Arizona 15.86 17.65
Arkansas 11.52 13.39
Colorado 8.14 8.8
Connecticut 14.93 14.81
Florida 18.14 20.18
Georgia 15.56 16.3
Hawaii 44.62 36.37
Idaho 9.08 10.54
Illinois 9.39 8.98
Indiana 8.52 10.81
Iowa 9.59 9.83
Kansas 10.64 11.1
Kentucky 10 11.96
Louisiana 11.79 13.15
Maine 14.14 16.43
Michigan 11.25 11.27
Minnesota 8.7 8.99
Mississippi 10.01 11.22
Montana 8.67 9.5
Nebraska 8.96 9.34
Nevada 12.25 13.18
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico 9.61 9.53
New York 14.04 15.05
North Carolina
North Dakota 8.08 8.46
Ohio 11.02 12.68
Oregon 12.81 14.52
Pennsylvania 12.94 14.74
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota 8.77 9.14
Tennessee 10.21 12.16
Texas 10.76 11.19
Utah 8.21 8.95
Vermont 16.14 17.29
Washington 12.26 13.95
West Virginia 11.35 14.75
Wisconsin 10.34 10.76
Wyoming 8.47 9.39

November 27, 2011

History Natural Gas Prices 1967 to 2010

The US Energy Information Administration tracks natural gas prices.   They have data on the prices of natural gas going back to 1967.

Here is the history of prices shown graphically.   These are the US national average prices per 1000 cubic feet of gas.

From 1967 to 2010 the price grew at an average annual rate of 5.2%.   It looks like prices grew drastically this past decade but the drop 2008 to 2010 actually lessens that trend considerably.  Between 1999 and 2010 the costs rose at a rate of 4.8%.   

Yearly data is in the table below :

Year Price
1967  $   1.04
1968  $   1.04
1969  $   1.05
1970  $   1.09
1971  $   1.15
1972  $   1.21
1973  $   1.29
1974  $   1.43
1975  $   1.71
1976  $   1.98
1977  $   2.35
1978  $   2.56
1979  $   2.98
1980  $   3.68
1981  $   4.29
1982  $   5.17
1983  $   6.06
1984  $   6.12
1985  $   6.12
1986  $   5.83
1987  $   5.54
1988  $   5.47
1989  $   5.64
1990  $   5.80
1991  $   5.82
1992  $   5.89
1993  $   6.16
1994  $   6.41
1995  $   6.06
1996  $   6.34
1997  $   6.94
1998  $   6.82
1999  $   6.69
2000  $   7.76
2001  $   9.63
2002  $   7.89
2003  $   9.63
2004  $ 10.75
2005  $ 12.70
2006  $ 13.73
2007  $ 13.08
2008  $ 13.89
2009  $ 12.14
2010  $ 11.21


November 25, 2011

Best of blog posts for week of November 25th

Every Friday afternoon I share some of the more interesting or notable posts that I have seen in the personal finance blogs and other sources for the past week.

TheSimpleDollar gives us The Unemployment Plan

FreeMoneyFInance lists Ten Insurance Policies You Need To Own
Also of note from FMF is his $20,000 challenge to give to The Salvation Army

Plus here's a list of the blog carnivals that my articles were in :


November 23, 2011

Impact of Short Sale on Credit Score

A short sale is when you make an agreement with the bank where they allow you to sell your home at market value even though your mortgage balance owed is more then that.  The bank basically takes the loss in this manner as opposed to having to foreclose and then sell it themselves.    One benefit of short sale cited by many is that it is not supposed to hurt your credit score as badly as a foreclosureOCShortSaleNow makes it sound pretty good  saying : "Following a successful short sale your mortgage will be reported on your credit score as either paid or negotiated, lowering your score as little as 50 points and affecting you for only 12 to 18 months. "   An article on the topic is much less optimistic : "The ding on credit will show up as a pre-foreclosure in redemption status, Steep says, which will result in a loss of 200 to 300 points."    Thats a huge difference in impacted given by those two sources.  The difference between 50 points and 300 points on a credit score is gigantic.   How much does a short sale really impact your credit score??

First of all we need to know a little about how the short sale shows up.   A QA post on the Experian website points out that "The term “short sale” does not actually appear in a credit report. So, the important concept to understand before you agree to your lender’s terms is how the mortgage loan will be closed and reported in your credit history."

For a good answer, lets go to the source.  This article on the FICO website cites different ranges of impacts to scores for foreclosures shortsales and the like.  They have a couple tables there showing numbers.  You can read their article for the source.   I consider the information from FICO to be the definitive answer on this topic since they are the ones that make the actual FICO credit scores.   If anyone can tell us the right answer it would be FICO.

FICO's info tells us that the actual hit to your credit score from a short sale will depend on where your credit score starts in the first place and how the short sale is reported on your credit report.   

If your score is lower to begin with then the hit to your score won't be as bad as you'll have less to fall.   For someone who starts with a credit score of 680 the impact from a short sale is 50 to 105 points.   If your score is much higher at 780 level then it could drop 105 to 160 points.  

When a short sale is reported with a deficiency balance that will hurt your score more than if the short sale is not reported with a deficiency.    From the numbers on the FICO site the difference between deficiency and no deficiency is 35 points.

The FICO data also shows a range of 20 points for any specific situation.   The impact to someone might vary 20 points depending on the exact specifics of their situation.   The credit score formula is pretty complex so you'd have to look at all the other factors involved.   I'm not sure how or why the impact from a short sale could vary 20 points but maybe if you have great credit otherwise the single short sale won't ding you nearly as much or maybe the opposite is true. 

Ultimately you'll end up with a credit score in the low to mid 600 range.   I'd assume your credit score will be 600-650 after the short sale is done.

This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

November 21, 2011

Mega-PC For All Your Home Entertainment

I was poking around and found a combo deal that included all the parts to make a home media PC with a 4 x HDTV tuner, Blu-ray burner/player, i5-2600 processor, 8GB memory, 2TB harddrive, Radeon HD 6570 video card, an Xbox style wireless controller, and some other misc, bells and whistles.   The total price on the combo was about $1,370 plus a $20 rebate so you'd pay $1,350 after the rebate.   It didn't include an OS so you may have to put down another $100 for Windows or you could use Linux for free.   This "mega-PC" would provide about all the stuff you would want in your home entertainment center all in one box.

This single combo system would replace :
Desktop PC
Blu-ray player
HD Tivo / DVR

Xbox 360 or PS3 gaming unit

To buy all that stuff individually you'd be spending roughly $500 for a PC, $100 for Blu-ray player, $800 for a Tivo with lifetime, $200 for the Xbox 360.   Thats $1600 total.    Or if you don't buy a Tivo you could spend $800 on the hardware and another $10-20/month to rent a DVR from your cable/satellite company.

The mega-PC is potentially cheaper and better in many respects than buying the individual electronics.

Lets consider the pros/ cons of building such an all-in-one Mega PC :

- Potentially cheaper overall
- Easily more powerful
- Upgradeable
- One box with central control and location
- Flexible and customizable
- Smaller and less cluttered

- Requires building the system
- Could be more complex to use
- You may already own half the stuff

Of course if you're interested in such a "mega-PC" then you don't have to use the set of parts listed above.  You'd likely want to tailor and customize the system to meet your own needs.   For example if you aren't too interested in video games you could build a less powerful system and make do with a lower end video card. 

If you're not experienced or interested in building a computer then that can pretty much kill this idea for a lot of people.   The though of building a complex computer may be more than most people want to tackle.   Building this kind of computer is more complex than a basic system as you'd have to setup all the TV connections as well.    However, I think people shouldn't be too afraid of building computers or working on computers.   The basics are actually fairly simple and don't require any more skill than knowing how to use a phillips head screwdriver.   There are a lot of guides online to walk you through how things are done.  I am convinced most people could do it if they tried.

Personally I think the bigger reason why this kind of mega-PC system may not work for many people is the last con on the list which is that you may already have many of the components.   Many households already have a gaming system, DVR and a blu-ray player.   If you don't have all three then you probably have one or two.   It doesn't make sense to throw out a perfectly good PS3 or Tivo if you've already got one.    The benefit of the all-in-one home entertainment PC is its ability to replace several other electronics.  If you don't have any of those electronics currently then this can be a great way to go. 

What do you think?   Have you built a PC?   Would you consider building an all-in-one entertainment home PC like this?

This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

November 20, 2011

Consider Waiting Until Summer To Buy Coupon Books

Today you can buy an coupon book for 20% off and get 35% back from Ebates.   Thats a pretty good deal.   The cost of the book in my city is $35 so the 20% off saves you $7 and then the cash back will save another $9.80 making your end cost only $18.20.   

Last year around this time in Nov. 2010 they had the same exact sale deal.   The Ebates rebate was 35% off and the coupon books were 20% off.   But I remembered that a few months ago the books were on a sale for $10 for two.   In May of 2010 they also had a good sale price with books for $15 and 30% back from Ebates.

With the 4 data points I have heres the price trend :

May 2010 = $10.50
Nov 2010 = $18.20
July 2011 = $5.00
Nov 2011 = $18.20

It seems that the price is highest towards the end of the year when the books for next year first come out and then the books go on deep discount around late spring or summer.

If you can buy a book for $5 or $10 in the summer than why not just wait until the summer when they are on sale and buy the book then? 

Looking through our coupon book some of the coupons have dates that expire earlier in the year.   It may make sense to pay more to get the book early so you can use all the coupons.   But it depends on the coupons and how you make use of them.   It may make sense to wait till early summer and buy a coupon book when they go on sale.

-This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

November 18, 2011

Best of blog posts for week of November 18th

Every Friday afternoon I share some of the more interesting or notable posts that I have seen in the personal finance blogs and other sources for the past week.

DoughRoller discusses Credit Reports vs. Credit Scores: Know the Difference

They also list  5 Weird Ways to Invest Your Money

SmartMoney talks about The Fuzzy Math of Home Values that is seen with online appraisal sites like Zillow.

The Myth Of Following Your Passion from The Mastermind Project  shares some of the feelings that I had when I wrote The Hazardous Road of Following Your Passion

My Broken Coin considers  Pet Insurance: Is It Worth It?

ConsumerismCommentary has a guest post Construction Revolutionized My Finances written by Free Money Wisdom writes about 50 Amazing Numbers About the Economy

Plus here's a list of the blog carnivals that my articles were in :


Average Credit Score versus Age

The CreditKarma site has data they compiled on average credit score trends versus age groups.

Here are the numbers:

Age Credit Score
18-24 638
25-34 652
35-44 659
45-54 685
55+ 724

I think that it makes sense that on average older people will have better credit scores.  

I can guess of a few reasons why this general trend would occur.

For one older people will have a longer history of credit and more years to compile a credit history.   One of the factors in your credit score is the length of your credit history.   Its impossible for someone 22 years old to have a 20 year credit history but not at all hard for someone in their 40's.  

People make more money as they get older and with a higher income its easier to handle your finances.   Its a lot easier to get go into default if you are getting paid $10 an hour than if you make $25 per hour.

As people age they learn and get wiser and generally 'settle down'.   I made some mistakes with my credit cards when I was in my 20's but I've since learned from those mistakes and will know better now.   I'm not the only person who goes through this experience.  This is a bit of a generalized stereotype of course.  I'm not saying young people are irresponsible and simply aging makes you good with finances.   Many people will do the opposite and are smart with their finances early or end up in credit trouble later in life.


November 17, 2011

Unemployment Figures By Occupation

The BLS publishes an A-30. Unemployed persons by occupation and sex

Today I'm just going to pull out the latest total numbers.

The data is not seasonally adjusted.   Here are the figures as of October 2011 :

Total unemployed % unemployment
Management, professional, and related occupations 2,417 4.4
Management, business, and financial operations occupations 1,089 4.7
Management occupations 713 4.2
Business and financial operations occupations 376 5.8
Professional and related occupations 1,328 4.1
Computer and mathematical occupations 173 4.6
Architecture and engineering occupations 173 5.5
Life, physical, and social science occupations 66 3.9
Community and social services occupations 64 4.5
Legal occupations 44 3.5
Education, training, and library occupations 345 4
Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations 224 6.8
Healthcare practitioner and technical occupations 238 2.7
Service occupations 2,758 9.9
Healthcare support occupations 274 8.9
Protective service occupations 208 6.4
Food preparation and serving related occupations 1,046 11.3
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations 700 11.2
Personal care and service occupations 532 9.2
Sales and office occupations 3,300 8.4
Sales and related occupations 1,548 8.2
Office and administrative support occupations 1,752 8.6
Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations 2,060 11.7
Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations 155 14.5
Construction and extraction occupations 1,456 14.2
Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations 449 7.2
Production, transportation, and material moving occupations 2,091 9.9
Production occupations 1,134 9.6
Transportation and material moving occupations 958 10.2

I highlighted the broader categories in yellow. Each broader category is the sum of the occupational areas within it.


November 16, 2011

How Airline and Hotel Travel Fees Can Add Up

I was just daydreaming about a trip to Vegas.   So I browsed over to the travel site Orbitz to see what a trip to Vegas might run.  Just some Internet based 'window shopping'. 

I found the following air + 3 nights hotel rate for the Vdara:

This is a pretty good deal for a nice 5 star hotel.   Plus theres a free buffet!

I then scrolled down the page and noticed the following :
Thats interesting.  I haven't flown on Spirit Airlines before.   Apparently they charge for either checked bags or carry-on bags.   $25 doesn't seem like much.  But that fee is charged each way so you'd be paying $25 x 2 for a round trip.   For two people thats $50 each or $100 in bag fees for two people round trip.

Now if you don't pay attention to the fine print above you may show up to the airport with two carry on bags and end up paying $45 each or an extra $90.   If you want to save some money you'll check your bags on the return trip and only spend $25 each or another $50.   In total thats an extra $140 for your bags.

Scroll a little further down the page at Orbitz and you see that there is also a resort fee for the Adara hotel :

When you check into the hotel they should tell you about the resort fee.  For the Aria hotel the fee is $20 per night and its also taxable.   If you stay 3 nights then thats $60 total plus the 12% hotel tax rate for another $7.20 or $67.20.

Between the airline bag fees and the hotel resort fee you're paying an extra $140 + $67.20 or $207.20 in fees.    What started out as a $341  per person trip or $682 total is actually going to cost you $888.20.   This is 30% more in fees.


November 15, 2011

Where Do Universities Spend their Money?

The other day I asked Where Do Universities Get their Money From?   Today lets take a look at the other side and see where universities spend their money.

I once again got the data from he Delta Project  in their study on Trends in College Spending 1999 - 2009   The figures I used are all out of that study and represent average spending per full time equivalent student.   I am only looking at public research universities and private research universities.    The spending for smaller schools and community colleges is different.   I am also not looking at the costs for scholarships or for auxillary spending category.   If you want more data you can find it in the appendix of the Delta Project study.

The different spending categories are defined as :

Instruction: Activities directly related to instruction, including faculty salaries and benefits, office supplies, administration of academic departments, and the proportion of faculty salaries going to departmental research and public service.
Research: Sponsored or organized research, including research centers and project research. These costs are typically budgeted separately from other institutional spending, through special revenues restricted to these purposes.
Public service: Activities established to provide noninstructional services to external groups. These costs are also budgeted separately and include conferences, reference bureaus, cooperative extension services, and public broadcasting.
Student services: Noninstructional, student related activities such as admissions, registrar services, career counseling, financial aid administration, student organizations, and intramural athletics. Costs of recruitment, for instance, are typically embedded within student services.
Academic support: Activities that support instruction, research, and public service, including libraries, academic computing, museums, central academic administration (dean’s offices), and central personnel for curriculum and course development.
Institutional support: General administrative services, executive management, legal and fiscal operations, public relations, and central operations for physical operation.
Plant operation and maintenance: Service and maintenance of the physical plant, grounds and buildings maintenance, utilities, property insurance, and similar items.

First lets look at the public research universities.  

Spending totals per major category for 1999, 2004, 2008 and 2009 are as shown below:

Looking at just 2009 the spending as a percent of total for each category is:

Now lets look at the private research universities.

Spending for each year in the major categories:

Spending per category as a percent of total for 2009 :

Spending is higher almost across the board in private universities.   Private schools spend roughly double what public schools do per student.   The one notable exception is that public schools spend a lot more on public services.  Here is the side by side comparison of total dollar spending per student in 2009 with a column on the far right showing how much more the private schools spend versus public:

Public Private % more 
Research  $     5,799  $     11,262 94%
Student Services  $     1,365  $      3,390 148%
Public Services  $     1,975  $      1,305 -34%
Academic support  $     2,845  $      5,742 102%
Institutional support  $     2,495  $      7,038 182%
Operations and Maintenance  $     2,073  $      4,270 106%
Instruction  $     9,986  $     20,232 103%

While private universities spend a lot more money the amounts spent in each category are quite similar between the private and public schools.  

Public Private
Research 21.9% 21.2%
Student Services 5.1% 6.4%
Public Services 7.4% 2.5%
Academic support 10.7% 10.8%
Institutional support 9.4% 13.2%
Operations and Maintenance 7.8% 8.0%
Instruction 37.6% 38.0%

The rate of increase from 1999 to 2009 in each spending category wasn't very fast.   Figured as annual rate of growth, the annual percent increase per category is as follows:

Public Private
Research 0.9% 2.2%
Student Services 2.0% 2.6%
Public Services 1.8% 3.1%
Academic support 1.1% 0.0%
Institutional support 1.1% 2.7%
Operations and Maintenance 1.4% 2.8%
Instruction 1.8% 4.0%

This rate of growth is pretty close to inflationary increases over all.


November 13, 2011

Where Do Universities Get their Money From?

The Delta Project tracks data on college costs and productivity.   Their study on Trends in College Spending 1999 - 2009 has data on college revenues and the source of revenues.   They break it down based on different sources of money as well as different classes of university.   I'll look at Public and non-profit Private 'research universities' which are the major full universities that offer Graduate programs.     The study looked at 152 such public schools and 99 private schools. 

The figures given below are all out of the Trends in College Spending 1999 - 2009 report.   The dollars are based on average amounts per full time equivalent student.  

The major categories of revenue are :
Net Tuition Revenue : Revenue from student tuition and fees less institutional student aid.
State and local appropriations : revenues from local and state organizations excluding grants and contracts.
Private gifts, investments returns and endowment income:  Gifts from donors and money earned or taken from endowments.
Federal appropriations, grants and contracts and state and local grants and contracts:  Money from federal sources and state and local grants.
Auxillary: Hospitals, residence halls, food services and intercollegiate athletics.

First lets look at the source of revenue for Public research universities.

Altogether the revenue total for 2009 was $35,524 including loss of $387 from endowments.   This is the total revenue of the public universities averaged over the student body.    From 1999 to 2009 the net tuition rose about 50%.   State and local appropriations are down around 15%.   Federal money is up 60%.   Auxillary revenues are up 25%.

The average % for each category over the 10 year period are:

Public universities are heavily subsidized with over 50% of their  You may or may not be surprised to see that net tuition only accounts for 19% of total university revenue.

Now take a look at Private research universities by comparison:

Total revenue for the private universities is $54,492 per student average excluding endowments.   The endowments and gifts contributed anywhere from -$30,256 in 2009 up to a peak of $46,342 in 2007.   Just because the endowment is up or down doesn't mean the university spent that much money.   The endowment funds are not necessarily used as spending money but just reflect fluctuations in the universities assets.   Revenue sources for private research universities are more stable growth across the board.  Net tuition is up 21%, Federal funding up 23%, Auxillary income up 22%.   The endowments dropped drastically in 2009 due to poor performance in the stock market and possibly lower donations.

And the average % for each category for private universities:

Interesting to see how much private schools get from federal, state and local governments in the way of support.  A lot of that comes in the form of grants and contracts I'd guess.

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