Report: Public School Tuition Increasing as Higher Ed Funding Falls

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A recent report from the research firm and advocacy group for millennials Young Invincibles has found that 48 states are spending less on their public higher education systems than they did prior to the Great Recession.

Data from the report suggests the average amount paid by families for tuition and fees increased from 36% in 2008, before the recession, to 50% in 2014.  At the same time, over 95% of states have cut their per-student funding by an average of 21%, with some going as high as 41% while tuition increased even more.

In all, 48 states were found to spending less per pupil than they had been prior to the recession, with Alaska and North Dakota being the only two states to not follow the pattern.  Louisiana’s spending was found to have fallen the most at 41%, with Alabama close behind at 39% and Pennsylvania at 37%.

Meanwhile, tuition at private schools has risen an average of 28%, with public school tuition closely following with a 20% increase.

Tuition increases were found to vary by state.  Ohio, Missouri, and Maryland all had total increases of less than 10% since 2008, while the cost of public higher education saw a much higher rise in states like Arizona with 72%, Georgia at 68%, and Louisiana with 66%, writes Beth Braverman for The Fiscal Times.

Over the last few decades, federal data has found that the cost of attending a public university or college is rising at a rate faster than the cost associated with attending a private school. Data from the College Board shows that public four-year schools charged an average of $9,139 in 2015, compared to only $500, in today’s dollars, in 1971.

Competition could be one reason for such a rise in tuition. As schools attempt to attract more qualified students, they need to hire well-known faculty members and increase the number of new facilities on campus, in addition to the amenities offered to students, which all comes at a cost. College sports programs and non-teaching payroll has also seen an expansion recently, writes Sharat Ganapati for Quartz.

The research firm looked at each individual state, giving scores based on public education support.  In total, 19 states received failing grades, up from 11 states last year.  Only eight states received a letter grade of B or higher, with Wyoming being the only state to receive an A.

“It’s going to be necessary to have some national leadership” on the issue, study author Tom Allison said. “The recession had serious consequences on this generation — trying to pay for college at a time when states are basically pulling the rug out from underneath them or trying to get a job during the worst economy since the great recession.”

In a separate study performed by Young Invincibles, 75% of American college students were found to attend public colleges.  Over 80% of millennial voters said they supported an increase in state funding for higher education.