37th Annual Maintenance & Operations Cost Study for Colleges

37th Annual Maintenance & Operations Cost Study for Colleges

Just like their school district brethren, higher-education institutions are feeling the pressure on maintenance and operations (M&O) budgets caused by difficult economic conditions and rising costs. The median college allocates 11 percent of total college budget to M&O, down from 16.4 percent the year before, according to American School & University's 37th annual Maintenance and Operations Cost Study.

The area affecting M&O budgets the most is energy expenditures. Spending per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student on energy/utilities rose a whopping 24 percent from the year before. This comes after dramatic increases in the category's costs last year. Also, budget pressures are causing maintenance staffs to absorb more work. For example, the amount of square feet of building maintained per FTE student increased to a record 277 this year.

Additional data from the most recent M&O Cost Study follows, providing you with valuable data that can help you in benchmarking expenditures at your institution. Please note that the information provided only targets two-year and four-year colleges with no significant graduate programs. This is done to provide more useful comparative data. Larger four-year universities with significant graduate programs are not surveyed because their costs and activities are so varied that results would be less useful.

Study methodology

Data for the annual American School & University M&O Cost Study were collected via an in-depth questionnaire mailed in October 2007 to physical plant directors at two-year and four-year colleges with no significant graduate programs. Recipients were asked to document various M&O costs for the 2007-08 school year. The tables and charts detail median M&O expenditures per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student and per square foot, as well as the incidence of various maintenance practices.

Among the titles included:

  • Administrative: Those individuals who have managerial or supervisory duties (does not include the overall director of physical plant).

  • Custodial: Those individuals responsible for building upkeep and cleaning.

  • Maintenance: Those individuals who perform skilled jobs, such as plumbing, electrical or HVAC repair.

  • Grounds: Those individuals responsible for landscape maintenance and upkeep.

  • Secretarial: Those individuals providing clerical support.

Maintenance & Operations Costs (Expressed in median dollars per FTE student)

Salaries $472.22
Benefits (based on full-time only) $103.07
Total Energy/Utilities $540.17
Gas/Electricity/Other Fuels** $400.92
Utilities** $76.25
Total Equipment & Supplies $110.21
Custodial/Maint. Equip. & Supplies** $76.81
Grounds Equip. & Supplies** $27.41
Vehicle Maintenance $16.64
Other $175.60
Total M&O Budget* $1,417.91
% M&O of Total College Budget 11.0%
*Calculated from sub-totals (in bold).
**Based on fewer responses than the total because of schools that combine some of these categories.

 

Maintenance & Operations Costs (Expressed in median dollars per square foot)

Salaries $1.82
Benefits (based on full-time only) $0.49
Total Energy/Utilities $1.87
Gas/Electricity/Other Fuels** $1.60
Utilities** $0.27
Total Equipment & Supplies $0.35
Custodial/Maint. Equip. & Supplies** $0.25
Grounds Equip. & Supplies** $0.08
Vehicle Maintenance $0.06
Other $0.44
Total M&O Budget* $5.03
*Calculated from sub-totals (in bold).
**Based on fewer responses than the total because of schools that combine some of these categories.

M&O expenditures over the decade

Spending by colleges on maintenance and operations as a percentage of total college expenditures over the past 10 years:

1999 10%
2000 10%
2001 10.5%
2002 10%
2003 10%
2004 9.5%
2005 10%
2006 11%
2007 16.4%
2008 11%

1,652
Median FTE enrollment of survey respondents.

Total gross area maintained of all buildings

(including corridors and other common and office areas)
(by responding institutions)

Less than 150,000 sq. ft. 7%
150,000 to 299,999 sq. ft. 11%
300,000 to 449,999 sq. ft. 17%
450,000 to 599,999 sq. ft. 14%
600,000 to 749,999 sq. ft. 12%
750,000 to 999,999 sq. ft. 13%
1 million sq. ft. or more 15%
No answer 11%

Total grounds acreage maintained

(by survey respondents)

Less than 40 acres 14%
40 to 80 acres 23%
80.1 to 110 acres 15%
110.1 to 200 acres 21%
More than 200 acres 13%
No answer 14%

Square footage maintained

The amount of square feet of building maintained per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student at colleges over the past decade (in median square feet):

1998-99 194
1999-00 206
2000-01 219
2001-02 213
2002-03 189
2003-04 207
2004-05 183
2005-06 197
2006-07 272
2007-08 277

34,084
Amount of square feet maintained per custodian.

M&O budget

(of survey respondents)

$1 million or less 10%
$1 million to $2 million 14%
$2,000,001 to $3 million 19%
$3,000,001 to $5 million 20%
More than $5 million 22%
No answer 15%

$850,000
Annual amount the median college spends on energy (gas, electricity, other fuels).

Number of buildings at institution

1-4 buildings 8%
5 to 10 buildings 19%
11 to 15 buildings 10%
16 to 25 buildings 19%
26 to 40 buildings 18%
More than 40 buildings 20%
No answer 6%

Data analysis

Following are medians for the 2007-08 school year:

Sq. ft. of bldg. maintained per student 277
Sq. ft. maintained per custodial employee 34,084
Sq. ft. maintained per maintenance employee 69,873
Acres maintained per grounds employee 22
Total reported M&O Budget $3.03 million

277
Amount of square feet of building maintained per student.

 

FTE enrollment

(of responding institutions)

Less than 600 students 11%
600 to 999 students 15%
1,000 to 1,999 students 26%
2,000 to 2,999 students 13%
3,000 to 4,999 students 13%
5,000 to 9,999 students 8%
10,000 students or more 8%
No answer 6%

69,873
Amount of square feet maintained per maintenance worker.

 

Median M&O salaries and number of employees at colleges

(Full-time employees)

Function Salary # of Employees
Administrative $56,333 3
Custodial/Housekeeping $23,004 15
Grounds $27,823 4
Maintenance $35,661 8
Secretarial/Clerical $28,217 1

Agron is editor in chief of AS&U. 

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