Are States the Biggest Enemies of Higher Education?

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Are States the Biggest Enemies of Higher Education?

Unlike private institutions, public colleges and universities rely heavily on state and local taxpayer dollars to provide their services. With the vast majority reducing the amount of money they devote to higher education, the states are becoming less and less friendly to public higher education.

States and Higher Education

Public higher education remains most popular among college-age people, drawing about three-quarters of higher education enrollment.

Enrollment by type of institution, actual and projected (1)

Year; Public; Private

1990; 9,710,000; 2,250,000

2000; 10,539,000; 2,616,000

2011; 13,689,000; 4,374,000

2012; 13,474,000; 4,259,000

2013; 13,428,000; 4,222,000

2014; 13,666,000; 4,302,000

2015; 13,812,000; 4,343,000

2016; 14,000,000; 4,397,000

2017; 14,218,000; 4,459,000

2018; 14,394,000; 4,510,000

2019; 14,571,000; 4,563,000

2020; 14,744,000; 4,616,000

2021; 14,953,000; 4,681,000

2022; 15,169,000; 4,747,000

2023; 15,375,000; 4,810,000

Public higher education has long been the financial responsibility of the states. But recent years have seen states spending less and less on public colleges and universities.

Breakdown of funding sources (2013) (2)

State: 51%

Tuition: 43%

Local: 6%

Tax dollars still make up the majority of funding, but universities have become increasingly dependent on tuition over the past 25 years, as states and local communities have reduced their contributions to university coffers.

Tax dollars’ percentage of per-full-time-student spending by year (2)

1988: 76.2%

1989: 75.6%

1990: 75%

1991: 73.9%

1992: 71.2%

1993: 69.2%

1994: 68.8%

1995: 68.9%

1996: 68.4%

1997: 68.9%

1998: 69.4%

1999: 70%

2000: 70.8%

2001: 70.7%

2002: 69.9%

2003: 67.7%

2004: 65.1%

2005: 64%

2006: 63.6%

2007: 63.8%

2008: 64.5%

2009: 62.6%

2010: 59.6%

2011: 57.6%

2012: 53.4%

2013: 52.9%

Making Cuts

Every state but Alaska and North Dakota is spending less on higher education than before the Great Recession.

Change in per-student spending, 2008-14 (3)

Louisiana: -$5,004

Hawaii: -$4,648

New Mexico: -$4,588

Alabama: -$4,413

Idaho: -$3,857

South Carolina: -$3,761

Massachusetts: -$3,704

Nevada: -$3,430

Connecticut: -$3,293

Arizona: -$3,082

North Carolina: -$2,999

Florida: -$2,745

Georgia: -$2,656

Kentucky: -$2,649

Mississippi: -$2,524

Washington: -$2,498

Oregon: -$2,386

Tennessee: -$2,310

New Jersey: -$2,263

Utah: -$2,230

Pennsylvania: -$2,206

Minnesota: -$2,160

Arkansas: -$2,073

Iowa: -$2,031

Oklahoma: -$2,005

Texas: -$1,923

Delaware: -$1,996

Missouri: -$1,914

West Virginia: -$1,859

Virginia: -$1,852

Kansas: -$1,663

New Hampshire: -$1,659

Rhode Island: -$1,649

Michigan: -$1,631

Ohio: -$1,481

Colorado: -$1,407

Wisconsin: -$1,401

South Dakota: -$1,388

California: -$1,373

New York: -$1,154

Maine: -$1,136

Nebraska: -$1,099

Maryland: -$1,015

Illinois: -$851

Vermont: -$717

Indiana: -$547

Montana: -$422

Wyoming: -$93

Alaska: +$636

North Dakota: +$3,150

23%

Average decrease in states’ per-student investment (4)

Three states — Arizona, Louisiana and South Carolina — have cut their funding by more than 40%. (4)

What Are the Effects?

The single biggest effect, as we’ve seen, of states trimming their higher education budgets is that the institutions will rely more heavily on tuition dollars. That means college is getting more expensive. While that isn’t the only effect, it may be the most obvious.

Rising tuition

27%

Average increase in four-year tuition at public colleges from 2007-12 (4)

Program and staff cuts

Arizona’s state university system cut more than 2,100 positions, eliminated more than 150 programs or departments and closed 8 local campuses. (4)

Such cuts run the risk of degrading the quality and experience of public education.

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Sources:

1. http://www.sheeo.org/sites/default/files/publications/SHEF_FY13_04172014.pdf

2. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_105.20.asp

3. http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2015/3/27/to-balance-budgets-governors-seek-higher-education-cuts

4. http://www.cbpp.org/blog/mapping-state-funding-cuts-for-higher-education