Most state governments depend on federal stimulus money to keep public colleges and universities afloat, a new report says. But these funds may be drying up as the new fiscal year begins.
Thirty-nine states used stimulus money to support higher education in the past year, compared to only 14 states the year before, according to the report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. To receive federal funds, states were required to keep higher education funding at or above 2006 levels.
As a result, public funding for higher education increased an average 2.3% last year. Without stimulus money, it would have fallen 2.5%, according to the report.
Public funding for colleges and universities still fell in 23 states, despite the overall increase. Hawaii made the most drastic cuts, at 26%, and Michigan and Louisiana each reported reductions of over 5%.
Experts say it won’t be long before stimulus dollars disappear for good, forcing state colleges and universities to raise tuition, cut enrollment, or lay off faculty — trends already apparent at institutions across the nation.
"Higher education funding will continue to take significant cuts in most states," said William Zumeta, a public affairs and education professor at the University of Washington. "Very little of the federal stimulus is left for this fiscal year, and it looks unlikely that there will be any more for higher education."
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