Higher Education Funds Begin Slow Recovery

Tim Goral's picture
Tuesday, March 20, 2012

When Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad stumped recently for increased higher education funding to keep tuition down, he was doing so in direct opposition to fellow Republican legislators who control the state House of Representatives. It didn’t worry him.

“The state of Iowa has a responsibility to shoulder part of the investment burden,” Branstad said of higher education at a news conference. “Student debt is a major concern in our state and the debt load of Iowa graduates is unacceptably high.”

The governor is calling for a $23 million increase to the budget for the state’s three public universities, while House Republicans have called for a $31 million decrease from the previous year. Branstad told Stateline that with revenues currently running above expectations, he thinks his increase isn’t a stretch.

“We still have a tight budget,” he said, “but we’re in a better position. It’s not like we’re short revenue.”

Branstad isn’t the only governor calling for increased higher education funding after lean years during the recession.

As tax revenues have started to recover in many states, others around the country have made similar pushes for more money. Last year, only six states increased overall spending on colleges and universities, according to the Grapevine Report, an annual survey of higher education funding.

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