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College Student Debt Soars; College Presidents' Pay Skyrockets

Daily Ticker

Presidents of U.S. colleges and universities fundraise with donors, preside over graduation ceremonies and provide unversities with long-range strategic vision. They are also paid handsomely for their work. Forty-two private college presidents earned more than $1 million in 2011, according to a new analysis by The Chronicle of Higher Education. The median total compensation for a college president in 2011 was $410,523, up 3.2% from 2010. Of the 550 presidents’ salaries that were included in the analysis, 180 took home more than $500,000 in 2011 compared to 50 in 2004.

The 10 highest paid college presidents in 2011 were:

  1. Robert Zimmer, University of Chicago ($3.358 million)
  2. Joseph Auon, Northeastern University ($3.121 million)
  3. Dennis Murray, Marist College ($2.688 million)
  4. Lee Bollinger, Columbia University ($2.327 million)
  5. Lawrence Bacow, Tufts University ($2.223 million)
  6. Amy Gutmann, University of Pennsylvania ($2.091 million)
  7. Anthony Catanese, Florida Institute of Technology ($1.884 million)
  8. Esther Barazonne, Chatham University ($1.812 million)
  9. Shirley Ann Jackson, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ($1.752 million)
  10. Richard Levin, Yale University ($1.652 million)

Related: America May Be #1 But Our Kids Are Below Average

Zimmer, the highest paid of the group, not only made eight times that of a typical private-college president, but he also receives free housing in a major U.S. metropolis, notes The Chronicle. Northeastern’s board of trustees released a statement in defense of its president’s 2011 pay: “Members of the board agree unanimously that continuing President Aoun’s leadership was among our higher priorities as trustees.”

As Yahoo Finance’s Aaron Task and Jeff Macke discuss in the attached video, the compensation packages offered to college presidents rival the salaries made by college football and basketball coaches. Is there a connection between skyrocketing college president pay and higher tuition rates -- and how much value are college presidents adding for students and higher education, ask Macke and Task.

In-state tuition and fees at four-year public institutions jumped 2.9% in the 2013-2014 school year. This uptick is the smallest percentage increase in 30 years, according to The College Board, which tracks tuition at public and private universities. College tuition and fees increased 4.5% in 2012-2013 and 8.5% in 2011-2012.

Meanwhile, total outstanding U.S. student loan debt has surpassed $1 trillion. College grads leave school with an average of $26,600 in loans. 

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