Higher ed funding decrease: Group says change is needed
Only two states in the country are spending as much per student on higher ed funding as they did pre-recession, according to a report released by Young Invincibles. The nonprofit millennial advocacy group is pushing for debt-free higher ed funding and increased state involvement in helping young people obtain college degrees.
Between 2008-2014, North Dakota and Alaska were the only states to increase higher education spending, by 38 percent and 6 percent respectively. During this time period every other state cut higher education funding, on average by 21 percent per student.
Why hasn’t higher ed funding bounced back?
As the economy recovers, funding at the state level for colleges and universities has not bounced back. The reasons for these cutback vary based on state revenues, budget restrictions and other factors. It seems that the decrease in investment is easier for policy makers to pass, as constituents are more likely to accept these types of cuts, versus more contentious moves like tax increases.
Though individuals may not overwhelmingly object to higher education budget cuts, they should. A direct impact can be seen in a family’s budget when these types of cuts are made. As states were decreasing their higher education funding, tuition and fees rose by 28 percent on average for two-year and four-year public universities, between 2008-2014. Tom Allison, Young Invincibles’ deputy director and author of the report tells MarketWatch, “The skyrocketing student debt we see is a symptom of a disease and the disease we see is state disinvestment from higher education.”
The report clearly is not the first to draw a connection between state’s decreased investment in higher education and increasing tuition and growing student debt. However, Allison tells MarketWatch that arming residents with this type of information and how it directly affects their pocketbooks may encourage students, parents and lawmakers to fight for better funding for higher education institutions.