States Investing the Most in Higher Education

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41. South Carolina
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,077
> 5-yr. chg.: -12.6% (16th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 176,789 (23rd highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $7,812 (15th highest)

South Carolina spends $5,077 on higher education per full-time student, considerably less than the $6,966 nationwide average. While nearly every state has cut higher education spending since the recession, cuts were especially drastic in South Carolina. The state spends 34.8% less per student today than it did in 2008, more than double the average per-pupil 15.3% spending cut across the country.

42. South Dakota
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,062
> 5-yr. chg.: -6.3% (10th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 33,938 (5th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $8,290 (9th highest)

There are less than 34,000 students enrolled full-time at public universities and colleges in South Dakota, fewer than in all but four other states. Those students foot the majority of the funds to keep those public institutions running. Partially because the state invests nearly $2,000 less per student than is typical, the average public college or university student pays $8,290 in South Dakota, the ninth highest out-of-pocket tuition cost in the country.

43. Virginia
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$4,911
> 5-yr. chg.: -11.3% (17th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 314,066 (11th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $8,007 (13th highest)

Like most states with relatively low public higher education spending, Virginia’s public universities are funded primarily by out-of-pocket tuition payments from students and families. After state financial aid and excluding room and board and other expenses, the average public university student in Virginia pays $8,007 annually, up 34.6% from 2008. By contrast, the national average net tuition payment in a single academic year is $6,006. Enrollment levels in Virginia, while up considerably compared to 2008, is down by 1.3% from last year — in line with the national enrollment decrease.

44. Delaware
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$4,804
> 5-yr. chg.: -21.8% (3rd largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 36,742 (7th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $13,763 (the highest)

While public higher education budgets in most states have not returned to pre-recession levels, state education spending have risen consistently in recent years. Last year, per pupil higher education spending rose by 5.2% across the nation. In Delaware, by contrast, expenditures declined by 5.3%, the largest one-year decline of all states. As in many states with relatively low and declining per capita higher education spending, public university tuition payments are also high. At an estimated $13,763 per student, out-of-pocket college spending in Delaware is the highest in the country.

45. Oregon
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$4,788
> 5-yr. chg.: -1.1% (the smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 155,505 (25th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $7,693 (19th highest)

The amount of money students spend out of pocket on tuition has risen by 23.1% across the nation over the past five years, reflecting declining government investment amid rising education costs. In Oregon, out-of-pocket tuition spending increased by 58.5% over that period, the fifth largest such growth of any state. At the same time, enrollment is down — by 2.8% over the last five years and by 6.0% last year.