One of the few good things that appears to have happened in the conference committee on the generally awful impending GOP tax bill is that the hits students were going to take have been eliminated. However, even without that additional burden, college students face costs that are far higher than any other nation and have been rising above inflation rates for decades. While` students in Denmark actually get paid, costs are closing on $70,000 per year at the most expensive US institutions, with public schools having costs rising more rapidly than in the privates over the last decade, as states have cut public support in the wake of the revenue shortfalls that came with the Great Recession. This is not likely to be reversed in many states as favorable views of universities among Republicans have fallen from nearly 60% to about 30% (with little change among Dems, still between 55 and 60%).
I would like to focus on a long-running trend that has been known for some time but somehow keeps disappearing from view. This trend was best presented in the ever more relevant 2011 book by Johns Hopkins poli sci prof, Benjamin Ginsberg, The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why it Matters. This rise of an all-powerful professional administration is tied to a corporatization of American academia. From 1975 to 2005 while student populations rose 56%, faculty increased by 51%, administrators rose 85%, and their professional staffs rose 240%. Around 2005 the total numbers of admins and staff surpassed that of faculty, with that trend simply continuing. Admin salaries have risen faster than the other categories. On top of that, even as faculty numbers and salaries have not kept pace, there has also been the weakening of status and pay arising from the ongoing steady shift from tenure track faculty to temporary adjuncts who have risen from 22% of faculty in 1970 to about 50% in 2017.