State funding still has not returned to pre-recession levels

Budget cuts' effect have been 'dramatic'

All but three states are spending less per student at public higher education institutions than they did before 2008, according to a new report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

Just Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming spend more now than they did before the Great Recession, which led many states to cut spending by an average 20% per student and forced many institutions to increase tuition.

"The impact of the funding cuts has been dramatic...in ways that may compromise the quality of education and jeopardize student outcomes," says the report.

From 2008 to 2015, the states that saw the greatest drops in per-student spending were:

    1. Arizona, by 47%
    2. Louisiana, by 42%
    3. South Carolina, by 37.9%
    4. Alabama, by 36.6%
    5. Pennsylvania, by 35.8%

While last year's report found 37 states increased per-student funding by about 3.9%, 13 states continue to implement cuts:

  • Illinois,
  • Maine,
  • North Dakota,
  • Oklahoma,
  • Delaware,
  • Tennessee,
  • Alaska,
  • Indiana,
  • Arkansas,
  • Vermont,
  • Texas,
  • Kentucky, and
  • West Virginia.

Public education is not so public anymore, says GAO

In order to deal with decreased state support, public institutions across the nation have raised tuition. Since 2008, Arizona's published tuition price has grown more than 80%, while California's, Florida's, Georgia's, Hawaii's and Louisiana's have jumped more than 60%.

These published prices prevent many students—especially low-income ones—from enrolling in selective colleges, the report authors say.

"Many states may need to supplement [state] revenue growth with new revenue to fully make up for years of severe cuts," write the authors. They suggest introducing new taxes in order to generate the necessary revenue (Shabad, The Hill, 5/13).

The takeaway: Forty-seven states are devoting less funding per student than they did before the recession, according to a new report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.


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