A a new report by the nonprofit Center for American Progress finds that state funding for public higher education declined — some of it significantly — in recent years, and federal assistance to low-income students to help pay tuition has not been enough to fully address their needs. What’s more, in states with the biggest disinvestment in public higher education, low- and middle-income families pay the biggest price.
The report, titled “A Great Recession, A Great Retreat,” details what has happened to state investment in public higher education since the financial disaster that hit the United States in 2008. It says:
Since the early 1950s, the federal and state governments have shared the cost of providing postsecondary education to citizens, but states have traditionally been a greater source of direct funding for public colleges and universities. Public colleges and universities rely on state investment as a source of both operating and non-operating costs. The subsidy provided by state investment has been critical to keeping costs low and providing an affordable education for all students.
But after making great strides for decades, the country has begun to lose ground. College costs have skyrocketed. Between 2008 and 2012, the share of students borrowing to finance their education increased from 35 percent to 40 percent, and the average amount borrowed annually increased from $6,200 to $7,800.
Since the Great Recession, states have withdrawn public investment in higher education, and many students from low- and middle-income families have been pushed out of public colleges and universities. Over the past decade, this has resulted in a decline in the college-attendance rate among low-income students and a dramatic slowing of the rate among middle-income students….
The additional investment by the federal government to low-income students has partially addressed affordability and helped fill some of the gap caused by rising tuition. However, since declining state investment—the primary driver behind the increasing net price of college—has yet to be addressed, the additional federal support does not fully address the growing need of low-income and middle-income families.
So which states have decreased state funding and which have increased? Here’s the map and following that is a table that gives state-by-state data:
And then there’s this:
Since the recession and state funding cuts to higher education, low- and middle-income families have paid the price for the decline in investment. In the states that have decreased funding by 30 percent or more, low- and middle-income families pay a higher net price than students from the same income group across the country. Of the four states that invested more than 5 percent since the recession, students in these states pay the lowest net price; this trend is true at both community colleges and public universities.
In states with high disinvestment, low-income students pay 18 percent more than the national average at community colleges and 14 percent more than average at public universities. Low-to-middle-income students pay 8 percent more and 11 percent more at community colleges and public universities, respectively. Middle-income students pay 6 percent more and 4 percent more at community colleges and public universities, respectively, but the percentage is the highest for low-income students.