Federal Relations

May 5, 2014

New Report on Trends in State Funding for Higher Education

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a study late last week about national trends in state funding allocations to public higher educational institutions. The report explains broad national trends in cost shifting of tuition from the state to the student. Overall, after counting for inflation, forty-eight states are still spending less per student in higher education than before the recession.  Since the start of the recession, states have cut higher education funding by 23 percent per student. While states have begun to restore funding, resources are well below what they were in 2008.

Some additional take aways:

  • Simultaneously, public higher education institutions must educate more students, raising costs. In part due to the “baby boom echo” causing a surge in the 18- to 24-year-old population, enrollment in public higher education increased by about 1 million full-time equivalent students, or 10 percent, between the beginning of the recession and the 2012-13 academic year (the latest year for which there is actual data).
  • The recession also played a large role in swelling enrollment numbers, particularly at community colleges, reflecting high school graduates choosing college over dim employment prospects in the job market and older workers entering classrooms in order to retool and gain new skills.
  • The cost shift from states to students has happened over a period when absorbing additional expenses has been difficult for many families because their incomes have been stagnant or declining. Tuition was up 26.1 percent between the 2007-08 and 2012-13 school years, while real median income was down roughly 8.3 percent over the same time period

The full report is here.