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FSU kept administrative overhead relatively level over the past years

ANALYSIS: Florida State University lowered tuition and kept hiring levels relatively even

While some universities grew their administrative staff, Florida State University kept its headcount relatively flat since 2013, according to an analysis by The College Fix.

At the same time, it decreased tuition in both nominal and real terms.

During the 2022-23 school year, the most recent year data are available, FSU had 4,276 full-time administrators and support staff on its payroll, according to information the university filed with the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

For the same school year, the university’s reported undergraduate student enrollment was 29,579. That amounts to about 145 full-time administrators and support staffers per 1,000 undergrads at the Tallahassee public university, or a ratio of about 1 to 10.

Similarly, the university employed 139 full-time administrators and supporter staffers per 1,000 undergrads in the 2013-14 school year.

This difference represents a 4.3 percent growth in nearly a decade.

At the same time, tuition decreased by 13.3 percent in nominal terms between the 2013-14 school year and the 2022-23 academic year, going from $4,640 to $4,022 per year for in-state tuition, according to IPEDS and FSU. Out-of-state tuition also decreased by 13.3 percent.

At the same time, the Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation, was 233 in December 2013 and 299 in December 2022. Had in-state tuition increased by the same 28 percent as inflation over the same period, it would be $5,148.

The university has not responded to three emailed requests for comment sent in the past several weeks that asked about any specific efforts to keep the administrator-to-student ratio low, how many jobs were legally mandated, such as Title IX compliance, and for further comment on spending decisions.

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Administrators and support staff include management, student and academic affairs divisions, IT, public relations, administrative support, maintenance, legal and other non-academic departments.

The administrator-student ratio, and its stability, differ from other universities researched by The Fix.

For example, Northwestern University in Illinois employs 505 full-time administrators and support staff per 1,000 undergrads, a recent analysis found.

This works out to one administrator for every two students in the 2021-22 school year at the private university in Evanston, just north of Chicago.

Similarly, Washington and Lee University in Virginia has 356 administrators or staffers per 1,000 undergrads, for a one to three-ratio. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the ratio is one to four.

A researcher on education spending and policy told The Fix that FSU’s numbers are aligned with most public research universities.

“FSU’s numbers seem pretty typical for doctoral-granting public universities,” Preston Cooper told The College Fix via email. “I looked at employee/student numbers for four-year universities in a paper several years ago, and though the data are a few years old, I found that public research universities had 61 FTE instructional staff and 160 FTE noninstructional staff per 1,000 FTE students.”

“These averages seem fairly close to the numbers you give for FSU, though FSU is slightly better than average on the noninstructional staff-to-student ratio,” Cooper, a fellow with the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, told The Fix.

“Is this a good ratio? It’s difficult to say. FSU, along with most other public schools in Florida, has done a pretty good job keeping tuition well below the national average,” Cooper said.

“That suggests the administrative apparatus at FSU is not overwhelmingly burdensome, at least compared to many other universities out there.”

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.