Along with most state discretionary spending, state support for higher ed declined when the Great Recession hit during the 2007-2008 school year. Has it picked up since the end of the recession?
That was the question posed last week by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities—a decidedly liberal but thoroughly rigorous source of information about budgets at the federal and state level. The center released a report detailing the support that states are providing to their public two- and four-year colleges and universities.
As shown in the map below, almost all states are providing less in funds per student to their public colleges and universities than they did in 2008, adjusted for inflation. And the cuts are substantial. The median state cut in spending – remember, this is during the seven years of the recovery — has been 22 percent per student since 2008. Only one state—North Dakota, which is enjoying a steady increase in tax revenue due to its energy boom—has substantially increased spending.
Time will tell whether these shifts in state budget priorities are permanent. For now, it appears that to make ends meet, state institutions of higher ed will need to continue to look for other sources of revenue—or cut spending.