As the long-lasting effects of the Great Recession slowly fade, most states have begun rescinding cuts made to public higher education since 2008.
Eight states, however, have continued reducing funds, according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Those that continued to cut per-student funding in the past year are:
- Wyoming, -7.2 percent
- West Virginia, -4.7 percent
- Louisiana, -3.7 percent
- Wisconsin, -3.3 percent
- North Carolina, -2.3 percent
- Kansas, -2.1 percent
- Arkansas, -0.7 percent
- Pennsylvania, -0.2 percent
“When we talk about states divesting away from higher education, public universities tend to make up lost state revenue by raising tuition or cutting costs—by reducing course offerings, getting rid of departments, reducing administrative staff or shifting from tenured faculty to adjunct faculty,” says Michael Mitchell, a policy analyst at CBPP and lead author of the study.
Long-term effects may be seen in local economies, as states that allow their public education tuitions to grow high enough to deter enrollment may be at a disadvantage in new job markets, Mitchell says.
By the end of the decade, 65 percent of jobs will require at least some postsecondary experience, according to a 2013 Georgetown University report: “Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements through 2020.”
“Right now it appears that we are not going to have enough people to fill those jobs,” Mitchell says. “If price is keeping students out of college, then we can draw a straight line and say we’re putting a ceiling on our economy.”
According to the CPBB report, 42 states increased higher education funding in the past year by an average of $449, or 7.2 percent, per student. Yet, per-student funding still remains below pre-recession levels in 48 states; only Alaska (3.5 percent) and North Dakota (38.6 percent) have increased funding since 2008.