How do Revenue Variations Affect Expenditures Within U.S. Research Universities?

Larry L. Leslie, Sheila Slaughter, Barrett J. Taylor, Liang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Using Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) figures on the 96 Research Extensive Institution in academic year 2007-2008, we employ panel data from academic year 1984-1985 to 2007-2008 to identify revenue-expenditure relationships. Although we consider a wide range of functional expenditure categories, we focus our analysis on instructional and research expenditures because these categories tie most closely to the core missions of research universities. Results suggest tight relationships between some revenue and expenditure categories for some institutions. For public universities, these relationships tend to follow expected paths. For example, a large proportion of tuition revenues tend to be spent in the functional category of instruction. Private universities evidence a somewhat different pattern, with revenues generally expended in the pursuit of merit aid and research. This suggests that private universities strategically deploy revenues from a wide variety of sources to secure particular students and to conduct research activities. However, the ways in which universities and IPEDS classify faculty work raises some questions about the transparency of various categories, and suggests that some current conceptions of how revenues are expended on research and instruction functions may be less than straightforward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)614-639
Number of pages26
JournalResearch in Higher Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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