Higher Education

J. Scott Moody & Wendy Warcholik, Ph.D. | September 17, 2015

Tuition Hikes and Non-instructional Overhead

J. Scott Moody & Wendy Warcholik, Ph.D.

Students across Oklahoma have returned to college campuses, and many are feeling the pinch from higher tuition costs. Higher education officials often blame tuition hikes on reduced state appropriations, but could there be other factors in play?

Because Oklahoma’s university system receives state financing, the U.S. Census Bureau keeps track of all types of data on the system. The nearby chart uses Census data to examine the dramatic size and growth in the number of non-instructional workers (per 100 private-sector workers) in Oklahoma’s university system. There are two major points to be gleaned from this chart.

First, Oklahoma’s university system employs 2.72 non-instructional workers—which is a whopping 82 percent higher than the national average and is the 3rd highest level in the country for 2013 (the latest data available).

Secondly, and even more troubling, the linear growth line shows that the rate of growth in non-instructional workers is higher than the national average.

Overall, this chart strongly suggests that Oklahoma’s policymakers must demand a thorough accounting from university officials as to why the state diverges not only in the size of its non-instructional workforce, but also why it continues to grow faster than the national average.


J. Scott Moody

OCPA Research Fellow

OCPA research fellow J. Scott Moody (M.A., George Mason University) serves as chief executive officer of State Budget Solutions. Formerly a senior economist at the Tax Foundation and a senior economist at the Heritage Foundation, he has twice testified before the Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. Moody is the co-creator of the Tax Foundation’s popular “State Business Tax Climate Index.” His work has appeared in Forbes, CNN Money, State Tax Notes, The Oklahoman, and several other publications. This article is an updated version of an analysis published in 2008.

Wendy Warcholik, Ph.D.

OCPA Research Fellow

Wendy P. Warcholik (Ph.D., George Mason University) is an OCPA research fellow. She formerly served as an economist at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, and was the chief forecasting economist for the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services. She is a co-creator (with J. Scott Moody) of the Tax Foundation’s popular “State Business Tax Climate Index.”

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