Tuition on my campus runs somewhere north of $15,000 per semester per student (for 12-18 credits). Their website says that 79% of students receive financial aid, and that the average aid package is about $20,000 year. Now, how much of that is loans, I can't say, but let's assume that half of it is loans or subsidies from outside sources (Pell grants and external scholarships and such), and that half is outright scholarship money or waivers from the university itself.
Okay, that's $15,000 - 10,000 /.79 (got it?). Bear in mind, I'm applying all of that aid to the cost of tuition, none of it to other costs, like housing or food or books. That comes out to an average of $6329 per student per term. Let's assume the average undergrad takes 16 credits per term. That comes to about $396 per credit hour per student per term.
So, I've got 72 students, each carrying 3 units. Meaning, the university is pulling in somewhere in the range of $85,000 for my labor. That's just for my labor. There are other fees, but those are separate. I'm being generous here, no? I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt on most of this, arguing in their favor. Hey, let's even round it down... let's say they pull in only $75,000 for my teaching. And... let's see, they share out about 10% of that with me through salary.
Am I missing something here? Is there any reason I shouldn't feel taken advantage of? Is there any reason I should have even the slightest regret for walking away from the abuse? I mean, to be explicit, would it really be too much to ask that they would split these classes into two sections, pay me twice as much, plus benefits. Let's say benefits add about 50% to the cost of an employee. So... that'd be $15,000 per term plus 50%: $22,500 (we're not talking high wages here--bear this in mind, our rent is $2000/month for a modest home). That'd still leave them somewhere north of $50,000 PROFIT each term! Not a bad return on investment, eh? As I plan to say to the Chancellor: there are many excuses for this circumstance, but no defense.
Where the hell does the rest of the money go? What are they doing with that extra $65,000, $75,000, $150,000 per term per adjunct? Whatever it comes out to, it's sure to be more than the low end? Is there really anything that could be said in defense of a policy that nets so much for the university, yet takes so much out its adjuncts, and short-changes its students?