Let's talk about a higher ed tax

Friday, June 21, 2013

Colorado's higher education funding model is broken, and I agree with my colleague, University of Colorado president Bruce Benson, that it is time for a serious statewide discussion about asking voters to fix it.

Many in Colorado don't realize that the cost of educating a student at Colorado State University in Fort Collins is the same as it was 20 years ago, adjusted for inflation. The only change is that 20 years ago, the state paid two-thirds of the cost; today, it's less than one-third. Public defunding of higher education is the biggest factor in rising tuition rates, and that trend has accelerated in recent years.

State funding for higher education is $163 million below 2009 levels, ranking Colorado 48th nationally in public support for colleges and universities. It's a stunning fact given that Colorado is one of the most educated states in the nation, thanks largely to people who move here with college degrees from somewhere else.

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