In a recent post at his widely read blog, Walter Russell Mead points out that the increasing cost of a college education can often be attributed to highly trained experts on a spending binge.

Liberal, Educated “Experts” Run American Colleges into the Ground

The NYT posted today the sixth and final chapter of an investigation into the rising costs of college. Today the focus is on the financial “geniuses” running American schools who have built fancy dormitories and high-tech facilities, saddling students with paying off the debt from the construction.

A decade-long spending binge to build academic buildings, dormitories and recreational facilities — some of them inordinately lavish to attract students — has left colleges and universities saddled with large amounts of debt. Oftentimes, students are stuck picking up the bill.

Overall debt levels more than doubled from 2000 to 2011 at the more than 500 institutions rated by Moody’s, according to inflation-adjusted data compiled for The New York Times by the credit rating agency. In the same time, the amount of cash, pledged gifts and investments that colleges maintain declined more than 40 percent relative to the amount they owe. [ . . . ]

But some colleges and universities have also borrowed heavily, spending money on vast expansions and amenities aimed at luring better students: student unions with movie theaters and wine bars; workout facilities with climbing walls and “lazy rivers”; and dormitories with single rooms and private baths. Spending on instruction has grown at a much slower pace, studies have shown. Students end up covering some, if not most, of the debt payments in the form of higher tuition, room and board and special assessments, while in some instances state taxpayers pick up the costs.