The Noodle‍ College Cost Project

Higher ed has become much more expensive over the past few decades (Baumol and Bowen referred to this rise as “cost disease”); we created Noodle to improve it while lowering its cost. To do so, we needed to understand where those costs came from, so we reworked each institution’s published financial data into a simple income statement for a single undergraduate student.

Welcome to the Noodle College Cost Calculator. We hope this sparks a useful conversation among your board members and administrators, and look forward to helping you solve a very difficult problem!

There’s Something‍ Happening Here

A large part of rising tuitions can be explained by reduced state subsidies and increased financial aid.

But the rest is trickier. It’s not really teaching (Baumol’s prospective culprit); the cost of instruction is usually 20% of the total expense, and it doesn’t appear to be rising dramatically. It’s also not lazy rivers or the mythical palatial dorms; these are often gifts and depreciation and amortization do not seem to be rising quickly.

It appears that much of the increase in costs is in the systems that support learning, eg. guidance, recruiting, placement, and administration. This is not shocking given a more diverse student body and a higher regulatory load.

Office coworkers engaged in a discussion and work activities in a modern workspace.

What’s Behind the Calculations?

Trying to create a simple income statement is anything but simple; IPEDs and university financial statements are organized around the various cross-subsidies of most universities.

So we have used a variety of calculations to massage the data. Click any line item within the generated income statement and we’ll explain our methodology (e.g. how we split costs between undergraduates and grad students).

How to Use the Noodle College Cost Calculator

Schools report financial data to IPEDs in a variety of ways and with varying levels of rigor (especially around such things as health facilities). Our hope is that we can help make the data more useful, and in doing so encourage them to report in more standardized and rigorous ways.

‍Click on any line item within the generated income statement and we’ll explain our methodology.

Generate‍ Income Statement

Welcome to the Noodle College Cost Tool. We’ve reworked each institution’s published financial data into a simple, one-page income statement specifically for higher ed administrators looking to identify trends and compare their costs over the years against those of peer institutions.

We can help lower your costs.

If you’d like to use technology to address costs, we’d love to talk. Rather than focus on lowering the cost of instruction (student:faculty engagement correlates to better outcomes and it’s not the driver of cost increases anyway), we’ll help you raise capacity and streamline the systems that support instruction. Together, we can lower the cost of higher ed significantly while raising engagement.

If you’d like to dig deeper into your expenses, you should contact the Academic Benchmarking Consortium.