An Analysis of the Hanson-Liethen Sliding Scale Cost Recovery Model for College Tuition: A Case Study

Michael T. Miller, Everrett A. Smith


Public colleges and universities rely increasingly on tuition to subsidize their operations, and how they price their tuition is important for many reasons, including who can access higher education, the financial stability of the institution, what labor costs can be paid, etc. In the early-1970’s, two scholars created a sliding scale for tuition pricing based on the assumption of state-citizenship. As costs have risen in higher education and public subsidies have not grown, there is a need to reconsider some of these tuition pricing models and to examine their potential to secure the financial stability of public higher education. Through an analysis of tax-related and tuition pricing data, the current analysis identified that the Hanson-Liethen sliding scale model does have several distinct advantages over the incremental-based tuition pricing at one case study institution, but that the model did not return significantly more money to the institution, thus, not providing a strong rationale for the model’s adoption at the case study institution.

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