Businessweek examines the growing funding gap separating the wealthiest private universities and most other institutions of higher education, particularly large public universities, in "The Dangerous Wealth of the Ivy League." Personally, I would have rather read an article about the poverty of many colleges than a "class warfare" piece about the wealth of the Ivy’s, but that approach would be much less sensational.
The article’s main points:
- A handful of colleges (Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, MIT, Columbia, Penn, and Cornell) have super-sized endowments that are feeding a building explosion and a concentration of talent at these institutions.
- Public institutions are struggling to maintain quality given rising enrollment, flat or declining state support for higher education, and much smaller or non-existent endowments.
Some of this wealth pays for extravagant dorms and expensive research centers. Some of it subsidizes the education of those who can’t afford a cool $45K per year for tuition, room, and board. Indeed at Princeton,53% of all undergrads receive financial support with average awards of $32,200 per year. And some of it shrinks classes by enabling the elite to hire more faculty thus providing educational benefits to the few, lucky undergrads attending these institutions.
As someone applying to undergraduate or graduate school, you should know which institutions have the funds to provide small classes, comfortable dorms, top faculty, and good research facilities. But I don’t believe the sky is falling down on all public institutions, as argued by the article’s authors. So read the article and glean the data in it, but ignore the hysteria and polemics.