After cutting spending on public colleges and universities during the economic crisis, many state governments have begun to boost higher-education budgets once again.
Lawmakers in Indiana recently approved a $500 million funding increase over two years for state colleges and universities, a 14.6% increase, following four years of cuts. New Hampshire's governor has proposed increasing the university budget for the coming academic year by $20 million, or 37%. And state lawmakers in Florida recently approved a budget that increases higher-education funding by $314 million, or 8.3%, following seven years of cuts.
The new funding reflects the brightening financial picture in many state capitals. Tax revenue in 47 states rose last year, according to Census Bureau data. Government revenue collections for all states increased by an average of 4.5%.
"It's going to be a better year for higher education," said Julie Bell, who oversees education issues at the National Association of State Legislatures, which represents state lawmakers.