Inflation for U.S. higher education institutions rises 2.5% in fiscal 2019
WILTON, CT, December 23, 2019 – Data from the annual Commonfund Higher Education Price Index (HEPI) show that inflation for U.S. colleges and universities rose 2.5 percent in fiscal year 2019, a decline from last fiscal year’s 2.9 percent rate and in line with the five-year average of 2.4 percent. Price increases have been higher over the past three fiscal years, however, averaging 2.9 percent, compared with the first two years of the five-year period, when they rose at an average rate of 1.7 percent. (Fiscal year 2019 covers the period from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, and coincides with the budget year of most institutions of higher education.)
FY2019 costs rose in three of the eight components tracked by HEPI, declined in four and were unchanged in one. By comparison, costs rose in four components and decreased in the other four in FY2018. The second-largest component of the index, clerical costs at an 18 percent weight, rose 3.5 percent in FY2019, up from 2.9 percent in FY2018. Administrative salaries, representing 11 percent of the index, rose 2.4 percent, once again a modest change compared with last year’s 2.2 percent. After that in weighting, service employee costs at 8 percent showed the highest increase of the eight HEPI components, tied with clerical costs of 60 basis points, rising 4.0 percent after a 3.4 percent increase in FY2018.
 In 2015, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) began using a new methodology that was not directly comparable with the past; therefore, data on faculty salaries and fringe benefits, was excluded from the 2016 and 2017 HEPI reports. The conversion has been completed and data on faculty salaries and fringe benefits is now included. Additionally, due to this modification, the FY2018 HEPI number has been restated to 2.9 percent (from 2.8 percent).