During spring 2003, national, state, and local economic factors converged in a manner that propelled us to better identify the costs of the educational programs offered within the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center School of Nursing (SON). Two factors prompted analysis of direct costs of the nursing education programs: a shrinking state appropriation and a 36.7% rescission of state funds during that academic year. The SON supports 618 students in four programs (baccalaureate, master of science, doctor of nursing, and doctor of philosophy). During summer 2003, the SON leadership team met numerous times in an iterative process to clarify assumptions and make recommendations in an attempt to cost out academic programs. Data were obtained from a variety of sources. The SON Office of Budget and Finance provided revenue and expense data. The Office of Academic Affairs provided course schedules, the course offering plan, and projected student enrollment in courses. The Division Chairs provided data concerning faculty workload and faculty areas of expertise. The data were compiled in Access tables and arrayed in a series of Excel spreadsheets that captured course data and faculty data. A "what-if" analysis was completed to determine cost of a pilot accelerated baccalaureate program. This method provides a dynamic analytic system shown to be prospectively and retrospectively effective. As a result of this analysis, the following metrics are available: direct cost per student per course/program; revenue per student per course/program; faculty teaching FTE; and faculty-to-student ratio.