“Sloppy” red tape requirements costing universities millions

Study says Vanderbilt University spends $150 million, or 11 percent of its expenditures, annually, complying with federal rules and regulations–not the only university.

tape-regulation-universitiesAccording to a new report released by college and university leadership, government red tape requirements are costing colleges and universities not only millions in administrative tasks, but depriving students of lower tuition costs and hindering university research and innovation.

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate education committee, yesterday said a report released by a task force of college and university leaders—and commissioned by a bipartisan group of senators—shows colleges in a jungle of red tape that “should be an embarrassment to all of us in the federal government.”

At a hearing on the report, Sen. Alexander said: “These should not be excused as normal, run-of-the mill problems of government. These examples, and others like them, are sloppy, inefficient governing that wastes money, hurts students, discourages productivity and impedes research.”

Sen. Alexander, along with Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), commissioned the report from the group in November 2013, seeking specific recommendations on reducing, eliminating or streamlining duplicative, costly or confusing regulations before the committee began work on a ninth reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

According to Sen. Alexander, over a year ago, Vanderbilt University hired the Boston Consulting Group to determine how much it costs the university to comply with federal rules and regulations.

The answer: $150 million, or 11 percent of the university’s total non-hospital expenditures last year.

Vanderbilt Chancellor Nick Zeppos says that this adds about $11,000 in additional tuition per year for each of the university’s 12,757 students.

(Next page: Where the costs come from for colleges and universities)