Structure of Instructional Spending at Private Institutions

Topics: Tuition and Fees, Revenue Enhancement, Administration and Finance

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Research Questions

  • What percentage of expense lines do instructional costs represent at small and mid-size private institutions?
  • What expenses do finance staff allocate as instructional costs?
  • How do administrators determine appropriate instructional spending levels?


Finance teams rely on NACUBO guidelines to determine which expenses to allocate as instructional expenses. Although finance teams rely on the same guidelines, accountants may classify expenses differently based on interpretation of NACUBO standards. This report outlines variance in allocation methods across five small and mid-size private institutions. Additionally, the report identifies the limitations of benchmarking instructional spending with peer institutions through IPEDs to determine appropriate instructional spending levels.