Students Paying Bigger Share Of Public College Costs

Career College Central summary:

  • Once public university tuition goes up, it rarely, if ever, goes down. Since the Great Recession ended, states have been struggling to control tuition costs with a patchwork of tuition freezes, more student aid and additional state funds.
  • Caught in the middle are students and their families, who have had to pick up a growing proportion of the cost of college by paying higher tuition. Average tuition and fees at public four-year colleges grew from $7,008 to $8,893, or 27 percent, from 2008-09 to 2013-14, according to a study by the College Board.
  • State and local funding for public colleges and universities is finally on the rise again in many states, after hitting bottom in fiscal year 2012. States appropriated 5.7 percent more to higher education in fiscal 2014 compared to the previous year, ranging from an increase of 27.3 percent in New Hampshire to a cut of 8.1 percent in Wyoming.
  • Despite the recent upswing, however, states are still spending an average of 23 percent less per student on higher education than they did when the recession hit at the end of 2007, according to the Center on Budget and Policy and Priorities. In fiscal  1988, public higher education institutions received about 24 percent of their educational revenue from tuition, according to the nonprofit State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO). Since then, the proportion has grown most years, reaching a high of 47 percent in fiscal 2013.
  • Another way to look at the shift: In fiscal 1988, the average tuition at a public institution was more than what the state spent per student in only two states, New Hampshire and Vermont, according to CBPP. In fiscal 2013, tuitions exceeded state funding per student in 23 states.

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