State Spending on Higher Education Slowly Increasing

According to Education expert James Palmer of the Illinois State University “[h]istorically, funding for higher ed tracks the economy….As the economy gets better, state funding for higher education increases. That’s been the pattern.” That’s a good thing for colleges as the economy has begun to improve and state tax revenue has increased. An article in today’s Wall Street Journal shows that state financing for higher education started to increase last year after five years of overall state cuts nationwide.

Cash-strapped states across the country cut funding for public colleges and directed scarce resources to primary and secondary schooling, Medicaid and prisons. The budget squeezes sparked debate in state legislatures about whether public-university systems had been doing enough to control spending, including runaway administration costs at many schools.

State legislatures have begun to rethink those cuts. Indiana is increasing its spending by $500 million over the next two years (a 14.6% increase), New Hampshire’s governor has requested an $20 million in additional spending next year (a 37% increase) and Florida approved a budget with $314 million more for higher education (an 8.3% increase).

However, this trend has not been present in all states. “Budget hawks in some states argue university administrators haven’t cut wasteful spending enough and could do more. Others argue schools are doing a poor job of preparing students for life after college.”

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