State College Tuition Skyrocketed During Recession, Study Finds

Career College Central summary:

  • As state budgets bounce back from the Great Recession, most are starting to increase their funding of higher education, an area of spending where cuts went especially deep. But all but two states – Alaska and North Dakota – still spend less per student than they did before the recession.
  • With both college tuition and student loans skyrocketing in recent years, much attention has gone to those state funding levels – a major reason behind the spiraling cost of attending college, at least for public institutions. A new report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a Washington think tank, quantifies just how much funding for public colleges and universities was cut in the past six years, and what the effects of those cuts have been.
  • “In many states the cuts have been extraordinarily deep,” said Michael Mitchell, an author of the report, in a call with reporters. “Over the last 25 years, nearly every state has shifted higher education costs from the state to students – this has been a trend for some time. But the recession, and the years following the recession, absolutely kicked this trend into high gear…. The cuts are in part a result of state revenue collapse, but they were also a product of poor policy choices, with states relying on spending cuts to make up for lost revenue.”
  • The cuts vary widely by state. In 37 states, per-pupil spending, adjusted for inflation, is now more than 20 percent lower than in 2008. Arizona, Louisiana, and South Carolina have reduced per-pupil spending by more than 40 percent. Over the past year, the spending trends have slowly started to reverse. Forty-two states are spending more per pupil than they did a year ago – an increase of $449 per pupil, or 7.2 percent on average, among states that increased their funding. But eight states reduced higher education funding still more in the past year, with particularly deep cuts in Wyoming, West Virginia, Louisiana, Wisconsin, and North Carolina.

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