Trends in College Spending (TCS) Online

Trends in College Spending (TCS) Online is an interactive web-based data system that gives higher education stakeholders easy access to information on finance, performance, and enrollments for individual institutions, groups of institutions, or the nation as a whole. Recent patterns in higher education finance are presented using six primary "metrics" compiled by the Delta Cost Project (shown below). These metrics mirror those in the Delta Cost Project’s Trends in College Spending reports, where national-level patterns and trends are presented. The TCS system allows institutional-level comparisons with those national data.

Six Metrics:

  • Revenue: Where Does the Money Come From?

    The primary sources of total operating revenue are shown, including: net tuition revenues; state and local appropriations; private gifts, investment returns, and endowment income; as well as other dedicated revenue sources such as federal grants and contracts, and auxiliary enterprises.

  • Expenditures: Where Does the Money Go?

    Several measures of spending are shown including: "Education and Related (E&R)" spending—spending primarily related to students and student learning (instruction, student services, and a portion of "overhead"); as well as the more traditional spending categories such as Education and General (E&G) spending and total operating expenditures, by component (such as instruction, research, academic support, etc.).

  • Cost/Price/Subsidy: What’s the Student Share of Costs?

    E&R spending is parsed into the "student share of cost" (the percentage of E&R expenses that are paid from net tuition revenues) and the "average subsidy" (the share of E&R expenses that are covered by institutional resources - primarily state funding at public institutions).

  • Performance: Outcomes and Spending

    Performance is measured by the number of completions (including degrees, certificates, and other formal awards) produced for every 100 FTE students enrolled, as well as the total E&R costs per completion (as contrasted to costs per student enrolled).

  • Spending Comparisons: Prices and Enrollments vs. Spending

    Comparisons between changes in tuition prices and spending per student show the relationship between price and cost shifts. Comparisons of E&R spending per student versus the number of students enrolled show the disparities in spending at different sized institutions.

  • Enrollment: Where Do Students Go?

    Full-time equivalent (FTE) student enrollments and headcount enrollment by undergraduate/graduate level, full-time/part-time status, race/ethnicity are shown.


TCS Online presents select data from the Delta Cost Project IPEDS Database from 2006 forward. The Delta Database was compiled from the U.S. Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) surveys; all higher education institutions that participate in federal student financial aid programs are required to submit data on enrollments, finance, staffing, and completions each year. In some instances, the reported data was adjusted to allow for more consistent comparisons over time and across different reporting standards (see the documentation tab of the TCS system). All financial data in TCS are reported per full-time equivalent (FTE) student and can be shown in current or inflation-adjusted dollars.