College professors often earn less than $30,000 per year in wages, and their salary depends largely on the number of courses they teach, according to a new analysis.
College Electronical Items (CEI) — a free electronic item — are one of the best-known ways to save money for students.
But as a recent survey from PayScale found, college professors have struggled to keep up with demand for their wares, as college tuition rates have skyrocketed and many students have lost interest in pursuing careers in education.
In fact, the survey found that just 5% of college professors in 2017 had purchased more than one CEI.
While CEI can often be found at thrift stores, the majority of CEI sold online for as little as $10, according a report from Pay Scale, a salary comparison site that analyzes compensation data.
The survey found the median cost of CEIs sold on Amazon was $10.99.
The survey also found that CEI is among the most expensive items in the classroom.
In a survey of more than 3,000 faculty members, students and staff, PayScale said that in 2018, professors spent more than $1,600 on CEI in the U.S. The study found that students who received a CEI spent an average of $1.11 per course, or about $40.90 per course.
The pay gap between professors and students has become a common theme among researchers looking at how college students fare in the labor market.
And while most of the research suggests the college-to-college gap is narrowing, a recent study by the New America Foundation found that the wage gap is still widening, especially for faculty.
“What we’re seeing is that a lot of these issues are more about the students than the faculty, because students tend to have a much greater degree of power and control in the coursework environment,” said Laura Ristow, the foundation’s chief economist.
“The faculty have been really slow to acknowledge that.”
Ristow and her colleagues recently analyzed the salaries of more 25,000 college faculty members in five categories — including faculty leadership, financial aid, coursework, and student performance — and found that college professors are earning less than the salaries they were earning at the beginning of the 20th century.
In other words, the pay gap is even wider than previously thought.
While a few of the findings might suggest that the gap between college professors and their students is shrinking, the PayScale study found the gap remains large.
For example, the median salary of a college-level faculty member is $74,000, according, the study found.
For a professor to make $74 a year, they would have to teach 2,000 courses in 2018 and teach 1,000 more.
Ristos report found that over the same time frame, college-based professors earned a median of $57,000.
But even if the gap is closing, Ristows team also found evidence that some professors are still making money despite their shrinking paychecks.
For instance, the average college-ranked faculty member earned $75,000 in 2018.
But for a professor who teaches only one course a year at a college, that salary would only pay for one class of 20 students, or $2,000 a year.
PayScale reported that the median compensation for a college instructor in 2018 was $78,500, or just $14,100 more than a professor at a small private college, where they earn a median salary only of $49,000 and average coursework of less than two hours per semester.
“The real question is, are the pay gaps closing?”
“What is it that’s holding back college faculty and faculty members from making more money?”
She added that the lack of transparency and accountability in the higher education system, as well as high-stakes exams, have made it difficult for faculty to make educated decisions about what courses to teach.
“It’s not a question of, ‘What are the opportunities?’
It’s a question about, ‘Do I want to work at a company that doesn’t have that opportunity?'”
The PayScale report also found a higher percentage of college faculty are working in positions with high turnover.
While only 9% of faculty in 2018 were employed full time, that figure increased to 21% in 2019.
The data on turnover also suggests that professors are working longer hours, said Ristowe, and she said this could be a concern for those who are trying to balance their classes with other academic responsibilities.
“If you are a faculty member who is working long hours, you are going to be taking on more debt,” Risto said.
“That’s going to make you even more vulnerable to the financial pressures that faculty members have.”
Rista Ristowa is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the director of the Center’s Economic Policy Research.
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