Despite the economic downturn affecting the housing market, construction continues apace on Indiana’s college campuses. It’s little wonder. Public universities have little incentive to stop building.
That’s because most projects are paid for through debt financing: a buy-now, pay-later approach that spreads out costs over time and thus minimizes the impact on taxpayers and students.
It also masks long-term effects and contributes to the rising costs of higher education in Indiana. Since 2001, state appropriations for debt service have increased 66 percent while funding for university operating expenses has increased 22 percent.
“I think one of the hidden costs — multimillion-dollar costs people aren’t aware of at all — is debt servicing,” said Murray Sperber, professor emeritus at Indiana University. Sperber has written extensively about college sports and how they’ve diverted funds away from the core academic mission of big colleges.