Budget Watch

Tim Goral's picture
Monday, July 16, 2012

Higher education funding continues to be under the knife around the country as state budgets are slashed to close the gap of declining tax revenue. Here's a snapshot of what's happening around the country.

• Cuts in state funding have forced University of Alabama trustees to consider tuition increases for the fifth straight year. Tuition hikes ranging from 7 percent to 8.6 percent are expected for all three campuses. If approved, tuition for in-state undergraduate students will rise 7 percent from $4,300 per semester at the main Tuscaloosa campus to $4,600. Tuition for out-of-state students would rise nearly 5 percent from $10,950 per semester to $11,475.
• Originally slated for cuts, Pennsylvania’s higher ed system will see spending remain at 2011 levels. Governor Tom Corbett signed a state budget that restores funding for higher education. Corbett noted that overall state revenues had come in better than expected this year, and as such he sought to make education his top priority. More than 40 percent of Pennsylvania’s total budget is spent on education. Higher education will receive $1.58 billion in exchange for a promise of minimal, if any, tuition increases to protect taxpayers and students from continually rising costs.
• Missouri wasn’t so fortunate, however, as Gov. Jay Nixon announced nearly $9 million in cuts for colleges and universities in the state budget. This is the third straight year that higher education institutions have seen their basic state aid reduced.
• Massachusetts’ FY2013 budget outlines a new plan for community college governance, giving Gov. Deval Patrick power to select the chairperson to head each of the state community colleges’ board of trustees. It also allows him to appoint a member—an individual from the state’s board of higher education—to a college’s presidential search committee.
• New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie used his line-item veto to cut $361 million in spending proposals for programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, elderly medical services, and higher education programs. That money will instead go into the state’s reserves.
• Louisiana universities have been hit by a $66 million drop in state funding in the new fiscal year. University of Louisiana System President Randy Moffett has asked the state’s top higher education board to scrap its method for allocating dollars among Louisiana’s public colleges, saying the formula is inappropriate to use with budget cuts. The formula was designed when state funding for higher education was increasing, to create incentives for campuses to improve their performance. Moffett said it wasn’t designed to strip funding from schools.