According to a recently released report on the 2016 budgets for 48 out of 50 states, the overall support for higher education has increased by 4.1% this year.
The Grapevine report is released annually by the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officer. The report compares state spending in the current fiscal year to that of previous years. State appropriations, money set aside for operating support at colleges, financial aid, and state scholarships are included, although money from student fees and the majority of federal sources are not.
Enrollment increases are also not considered, meaning the report does not consider the amount spent on each student by individual states.
While the findings show a number of states have increased their spending on higher education, it also discovered several states who continue to fall short.
“Yet the overall picture this year is more positive than the results of last year’s survey, which showed that in fiscal year 2015 funding for higher education in 25 states was lower than the funding available five years previously in 2010.” according to a press release on the study, called the Grapevine. “This suggests an ongoing albeit slow recovery in many states from the losses experienced in the wake of the last recession.”
Overall, 39 states have shown an increase in funding with Oregon at the top of the list with a 16.2% increase. Meanwhile, nine states reported a decrease in funding for higher education. Arizona saw the largest drop in spending with a 14% reduction. The state has been struggling, with data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showing a larger decrease in state funding and higher increase in tuition than any other state since the recession, writes Ellen Wexler for Inside Higher Ed.
This year’s findings are the third consecutive year that the majority of state spending has increased. In 2012 state spending saw the largest decrease in half a century at 7.6%, while in 2013 it went down by just 0.4%. Each year after that brought an increase in spending.
According to Illinois State professor and report author James Palmer, the findings suggest that after a recession, when fewer tax dollars are available to states, a period of “retrenchment” begins. States must complete that process before additional money can be put toward the support of education, reports Kevin Walker for US News University Directory.
The only two states to not be included in the report were Pennsylvania and Illinois because they have not completed state budgets for 2016 yet. After data for these states is made available, national averages are expected to change due to their size and significance.
Between fiscal years 2014 and 2015, Illinois increased its funding more than any other state at 21.1%. However, the majority of that money went to public employee retirement plans rather than into classrooms. While the state is currently experiencing a budget impasse, universities are footing the bill for 125,000 Monetary Award Program grants for students, which are typically covered by the state.
At the same time, Pennsylvania is experiencing the longest budget stalemate in modern state history.