Declining Support for State Universities

States are sustaining higher education less than they used to, according to an article in Inside Higher Ed:

Total state support for higher education for 2009-10 — including federal stimulus dollars — is $79.4 billion, which is a decline of 1.1 percent from the prior year and 1.7 percent from the year before that. This represents a dramatic shift from the three-year period of 2005 to 2008 when state support grew 24 percent, to $80.7 billion — without federal stimulus dollars in the equation. Without the federal stimulus contribution, which is now over, state support this year would have been down 3.5 percent over one year and 6.8 percent over two years.

Overall this is awful. It’s an average, however, and there were significant variations across states. Still fully 11 states suffered more than five percent declines over one year. These include some of America’s largest states: California (down 6.8 percent), Michigan (down 7.1 percent), and Ohio (down 7.9 percent).

According to the Inside Higher Ed article, Paul Lingenfelter, president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers said that state support for public colleges and universities has been “’resilient but inconstant’ over time. Past recessions have resulted in absolute declines in state support, usually at times of enrollment increases, but they have been followed fairly quickly by recoveries in which states have ‘caught up’ in support.”

Not everyone agrees, however.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer