This chapter considers the many perks enjoyed by colleges at the expense of taxpayers. American colleges and universities spend about half a trillion dollars a year on direct operations. Federal, state, and local governments cover a large portion of these expenses. Overall, colleges get about 37 percent of their revenue from the government. This number does not include indirect spending, such as the public goods colleges consume without having to pay taxes. Colleges do not pay for roads, police, fire departments, military defense, and so on, in the communities where they operate. They also enjoy substantial tax benefits on everything from the property they own to the purchases they make to the way they invest money under their endowments. Thus, colleges receive other hidden subsidies and perks not reflected in those numbers.
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