BEYOND THE NUMBERS
With state legislative sessions beginning across the country, it’s a good time to remind lawmakers that funding for public two- and four-year colleges remains well below pre-recession levels in almost every state, as our fact sheets show. (Here, for example, is our fact sheet for Alabama.)
And as higher education funding has fallen, tuition has risen – in many cases, dramatically. In some states, funding cuts have forced reductions in campus staff, student support services, and course offerings.
Our 2015 paper explained that, between the 2007-08 and 2014-15 school years (after adjusting for inflation):
- Forty-seven states cut spending per student — all except Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming.
- The cuts were significant in most states. Average state spending per student fell $1,805, or 20 percent.
- Students’ costs rose significantly. Annual tuition at four-year public colleges rose by $2,068, or 29 percent.
There is some good news, however. Between fiscal years 2014 and 2015, 37 states raised per-student funding, by an average of nearly 4 percent, after adjusting for inflation; perhaps not coincidentally, average tuition at four-year colleges rose a mere 1.2 percent.