U of M evaluates college costs

Couple studies
A couple studies on the mall lawn near Northrop Auditorium on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis, Minn.
MPR Photo/Alex Friedrich

The University of Minnesota is taking its first full look at what it costs to educate the average undergraduate.

On average, the University of Minnesota system spends about $12,000 a year to teach an undergraduate.

The university's most expensive school is the Carlson School of Management. It spends more than $16,000 a year per student. Officials say that's because faculty pay must be competitive with the private sector.

University officials said they were surprised to find that one of the least expensive colleges is Science and Engineering, which spends less than $11,000 annually per student.

The absolute least expensive college, however, is Education and Human Development, at $9,625. U officials say that's because it has a lot of physical education courses, which tend to be inexpensive to run.

Among campuses, the university spends the most at Morris, which has a low ratio of students to instructors making it more expensive, said Lincoln Kallsen, director of financial research for the university.

"They are providing a very high-quality liberal arts education, much the same as a Carleton or a Macalester," Kallsen said.

Analyzing the findings each year will help them make the university more efficient, officials said.

The college saves money by offering a more limited curriculum, Kallsen said.

"If you're educating an engineer, they have a more lockstep curriculum than perhaps a student in the liberal arts, which has a wider variety of courses to choose from," Kallsen said. "And that is an inherently more efficient instructional model."

University officials say they their costs can't be compared with those at other universities because they measure costs differently.

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