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Mapping State Funding Cuts for Higher Education

Public colleges and universities have experienced major cuts in state funding since the Great Recession — something state lawmakers should consider as they grapple with tough budget decisions in coming months. Our new fact sheets show that, in almost every state, these funding cuts have led to tuition hikes. In some cases, they’ve also been accompanied by cuts in campus staff and programs that may reduce the quality of education for students.

As our 2014 paper explained, after adjusting for inflation:

  • Forty-eight states — all but Alaska and North Dakota — are spending less per student than they did in fiscal year 2008. The average state has cut per-student funding by $2,026, or 23 percent.
  • Nine states have cut per-student funding by more than one-third. Three of them — Arizona, Louisiana, and South Carolina — have cut it by more than 40 percent.
  • Annual published tuition — the “sticker price” — at four-year public colleges has risen by an average of $1,936, or 28 percent, since the 2007-08 school year.

Some 42 states began reinvesting in higher education between fiscal years 2013 and 2014. That’s a good first step. But if states are to continue reinvesting in higher education, they’ll need to make sound tax and budget decisions — including rejecting costly and ineffective tax cuts.

Click on the state abbreviation to jump to its fact sheet.

Note: North Dakota and Alaska are excluded from the fact sheets because they increased per-student higher ed funding between 2008 and 2014.