Virginia Colleges Spend Millions on Federal Regs

Federal regulations add measurably to the cost of running Virginia colleges and universities.

Federal regulations add measurably to the cost of running Virginia colleges and universities.

The University of Virginia estimates that it spends $20 million a year complying with unfunded federal mandates, just for its academic division, reports Karin Kapsidelis with the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The College of William & Mary estimates its compliance costs at $4.5 million to $6.7 million, and Virginia Commonwealth University puts the number at $13 million.

The estimates come in response to a Congressional request for information as part of a review of federal review of unfunded mandates. Higher ed institutions say the costs were likely underestimated due to the short turnaround time for providing the figures.

While universities have blamed federal regulations in the past for pushing up the cost of higher education, Virginia institutions are not necessarily eager to roll them all back. Reports Kapsidelis:

“There are rules that if no one else put them on us, we would put them on ourselves,” said Samuel E. Jones, W&M’s senior vice president for finance and administration.

“There are some requirements we might want to take a hedge clipper to and not an ax,” said Gary Nimax, U.Va.’s assistant vice president for compliance. …

“We’re just waiting to see what might change,” said Nimax. … . “The idea of having fewer regulations is an attractive one.” But U.Va. would like to see the focus on cutting “the non-value-added pieces of these requirements,” he said.

Prime offenders are the Clery Act, which requires extensive reports on campus crime statistics that run nearly 1oo pages long, and Title IX, which forbids discrimination on the basis of sex in higher ed. The initial focus on campus athletic programs under Title IX has expanded to the regulation of student sexual behavior.

Bacon’s bottom line: For purposes of comparison, the University of Virginia generates roughly $500 million a year in tuition revenue and gets another $150 million in state support. The $20 million regulatory burden amounts to 3% of those two sources of revenue. An argument can be made that federal regulations do contribute to the mushrooming costs of higher education, but insofar as universities’ priorities mirror those of the federal government — how many institutions would dismantle their Title IX bureaucracies? — it would be unrealistic to expect that deregulation would save much money.

Update: In an article about the growing self-censorship of faculty members due to fear of transgressing some politically correct taboo, the Wall Street Journal quotes Dale Carpenter, a Southern Methodist University law professor:

Universities have developed entire bureaucracies to combat the problem of discrimination and a hostile environment. Those bureaucracies are needed but the also tend to feed on their own momentum.

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8 responses to “Virginia Colleges Spend Millions on Federal Regs

  1. re: 20 million

    let’s take this two steps further –

    20 million at 50K per person salary is 400 positions

    or if you divide by 22,000 students.. that’s $900 each.

    but I bet the Feds tell you it IS funded – because if you don’t follow
    the regs – they pull your funding!

    Finally – what rule says that we have no choice but to do regulations themselves in inefficient and costly ways – any more or less than we
    expect other functions to be done efficiently and cost-effectively?

    Making regulations the arch enemy of “good” is dumb anyhow. it’s like someone pointing out the “cost” of enforcing speed limits or requiring credit card companies to inform customers of their rates and policies.. sure you
    could just have no speed limits nor credit disclosures to make things less costly? there are clearly more dimensions to regulation than the anti-regulation folks are spouting.

  2. Bacon says: “the University of Virginia generates roughly $500 million a year in tuition revenue and gets another $150 million in state support.’

    The Virginia state legislature needs to track and account for where every dollar of this $650 Million of tuition and grants go. That means follow the money, every dollar of it, and demand a detailed accounting of sources and application of these monies and the WHY behind these expenditure (namely how they advance or hinder the proper education of UVA students and the concrete results or lack thereof achieved by these monies. This includes how the application of these massive funds work to free up other monies that otherwise could be applied more wisely to better educate students at UVA.

    • Recall that President Obama and V. President Bidden in early 2014 in the Blue Room of the White House called for the nations universities to replace the jurisdiction of state and local courts and state and local law enforcement agencies with altogether new University appointed and University run Title 1X lawmaking, policing, investigating, trial, and punishment of student sexual activities in violation of altogether new and novel federal and university interpretations of Title 1X.

      This was a gross usurpation of student rights, and of state and local powers and prerogatives. This was also a gross and unworkable imposition of functions and related burdens on Universities, including the exorbitant costs to build and operate totally unworkable and unconstitutional systems, and to payoff in large sums plaintiffs lawsuits that were forced upon universities if only to avoid trial on these miscarriages of justice and their attendant bad publicity.

      The residue, legacy, and ongoing costs of this horrible and politically motivated jihad on university students should be stripped out of future UVA operations and budgets.

      • This is an inaccurate portrayal of college adjudication processes. Their purpose is to provide a system of redress within the school itself and, importantly, to exist ALONGSIDE the criminal justice system. Students can choose to pursue justice in the internal system, the criminal justice system, both, or neither.

        Schools are obligated by Title IX to have these processes. These processes are not seeking to find one guilty of criminal behavior (only a jury of one’s peers can find that), but rather to find one responsible for violating the school’s code of conduct. As such, the internal processes also try cases in other potentially criminal behavior like vandalism and assault, but also less illegal behavior like plagiarism.

        The attention from the White House has come because they have been woefully inadequate in protecting the rights of students to live and study free of discrimination and trauma. These processes exist to provide an additional path, not to replace any. There are, after all, certain types of recourse and resources that universities are in a better place to address and enforce than the criminal justice system, and vice versa. Students should have access to all those options if they’ve experienced something as serious as sexual assault.

        • You comment has now basis in fact or experience. It’s pablum. The record contradicts it in volumes.

          When time permits I will refer you here to some facts, such as the transcripts of the White house meetings, legal documents, policy statements and other commentary on Title IX horrendous sexual enforcement results including by people like Janet Napolitano, president of University of California, not mention the reams of lawsuits and scandals that exploded into mass hysteria if not Star Chamber proceedings, all of which has left a broad wake human damage behind..

          • No basis in facts or experience? You don’t know any of my experiences. If you did, you’d know that I was sexually assaulted on my sixth night of college, pursued justice in my college’s internal system AND the criminal justice system, was horribly treated by both. I’ve since spent the past five years as an activist and advocate against college sexual assault.

            That’s what their purpose is. I didn’t say they were all doing a good job or that they’re better or worse than the criminal justice system. But the truth of the matter is that they offer different resources and students should have access to all of those. In fact, most of my work centers around how most schools have SUCKED at this. As has the criminal justice system. That’s why I work to make them better, not eliminate them entirely.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            Nor do you know my experience. I, along with most every adult whose lived several decades could tell stories of their own horrible stories, experiences that would curl your hair. That is life. The one we all live in, and that sooner or later will catch us with us, often numerous times in difficult, and irrevocable ways. No one is special here in the world.

            I am glad your taking a positive approach to your experience, including helping others. But that has nothing to do with the harm done by actions done by many people, institutions, and groups under the cover of Title IX, One crime, or a generations worth of crimes never justifies throwing out our judicial system, obe built over hundreds of years, or massing hysteria, or rigged systems, or witch hunts and Star Chamber proceedings, or deeply intrusive regulation to control and monitor the minute details of other people’s or groups social habits, or cooking up ph0ny statics (one out of four women are raped in college, for example) in order to justify taking peoples rights away for unjust punishment. Nor should anybody tolerate a political party using myth and disinformation to demonize one groups in order to mobilized another group so as to create a false wedge issue in an effort to win an election at the cost of alienating one sex from another.

  3. This discussion reminds me of Jack Dale, a former superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools, talking about all the added expenses for compliance with No Child Left Behind — unfunded mandates. He followed those remarks by saying that the school division would likely have done the very same things. But he got to blame unfunded mandates.

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