States Investing the Most in Higher Education

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26. Utah
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$6,062
> 5-yr. chg.: 4.9% (11th largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 120,352 (19th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,021 (11th lowest)

State funding for public universities in Utah is down by 18.9% since 2008, a slightly larger reduction than the national average decline of 15.3% over that time. The decrease in per pupil spending was driven largely by enrollment increases. Since the recession, full-time enrollment at public colleges and universities in Utah has increased by 16.5%, nearly double the enrollment increase nationwide. The decreased expenditure has also shifted the financial burden to students and families. Today, full-time students at public colleges or universities in Utah pay 33.4% more out of pocket than they did before the recession.

27. Wisconsin
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,991
> 5-yr. chg.: -8.6% (16th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 219,490 (17th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,498 (19th lowest)

State funding for public higher education institutions in Wisconsin fell by 8.6% per student over the last five years, faster than the nationwide decline. Per pupil higher education spending reductions often reflect enrollment increases, while per pupil expenditures often rise as enrollment decreases. In Wisconsin, enrollment actually fell by 7.5% over the last five years, implying the spending cut may have been larger than it appears.

Like many other states with relatively large higher education cutbacks, out-of-pocket tuition payments in Wisconsin also commensurately.

28. Kansas
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,837
> 5-yr. chg.: -6.3% (10th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 137,036 (23rd lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $6,174 (24th lowest)

Nearly every state has yet to reach pre-recession level spending on higher education, and Kansas’s recovery is even slower than average. Kansas spends 6.3% less per student today than it did five years ago, while spending nationwide is only 2.4% shy of where it was half a decade ago. Though Kansas increased its investment in higher education by 1.9% last year, spending nationwide has outpaced Kansas’s considerably, increasing by 5.2% last year.

29. Alabama
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,774
> 5-yr. chg.: -10.5% (18th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 195,411 (19th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $10,098 (4th highest)

The typical Alabama household earns only $42,830 a year, roughly $11,000 less than the typical American household. With a relatively weak tax base to begin with, the recession likely affected state spending drastically, particularly on higher education. Even after a slight increase in higher education funding in the last year, the state today spends 37.9% less per student on public colleges and universities and financial aid than it did in 2008, the second largest funding decrease in the country.

30. New Jersey
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,766
> 5-yr. chg.: -14.7% (10th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 270,053 (13th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $8,680 (8th highest)

After years of cutbacks during the recession, state investment in public higher education is on the rise again. Still, New Jersey is one of only 10 states where financial support for higher education declined last year. Like most states with relatively low — and declining — per pupil higher education expenditures, public universities in New Jersey have relied increasingly on financial support from students and families. After state and institutional financial aid is received and excluding room, board, and other expenses, the typical public university student in New Jersey pays $8,680 each year, the eighth highest net tuition payment of all states.