Duke Says $60K Tuition Is a Bargain

In 1984, it cost $10,000 a year to go to Duke University. Today, it’s $60,000 a year. “It’s staggering,” says Duke freshman Max Duncan, “especially considering that for four years.”

But according to Jim Roberts, executive vice provost at Duke, that’s actually a discount. “We’re investing on average about $90,000 in the education of each student,” he says. Roberts is not alone in making the claim. In fact, it’s one most elite research institutions point to when asked about rising tuition.


Okay, sorry. Had to get that out of the way. Lisa Chow at NPR breaks down where all that money goes, and it is illuminating.

My biggest side-eyes:

$8,000 of the $90,000 Duke spends on each student goes into building and maintaining physical infrastructure on campus.

Another $14,000 goes to pay a share of administrative and academic support salaries, which in Duke’s case includes more than $1 million in total compensation to the university president, Richard Brodhead, and more than $500,000 to the provost, Peter Lange, according to 2011 tax filings.

Apparently about 50% of students pay full tuition, $20,000 of which goes to cover the students who receive financial aid. For the 50% of students who do receive financial aid, just over 10% pay nothing, and another 10% pay between $1 and $10k/year.

Meanwhile! A freshman at Duke writes for xoJane about why she did porn:

People often ask me this question. They know I am a freshman at Duke University, and their shock and incredulity are apparent when the rumor they’ve heard whispered or read on a chat board turns out to be true.

However, the answer is actually quite simple. I couldn’t afford $60,000 in tuition, my family has undergone significant financial burden, and I saw a way to graduate from my dream school free of debt, doing something I absolutely love.

Photo: Matt Phillips


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