States Investing the Most in Higher Education

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46. Rhode Island
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$4,785
> 5-yr. chg.: 1.1% (13th largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 31,547 (4th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $7,812 (15th highest)

Rhode Island spends only $4,785 per student on higher education, on average, considerably less than the $6,966 national average spending. Lower state spending typically means higher out-of-pocket student costs. In Rhode Island, the out-of-pocket tuition cost for students at public institutions, at $7,812 per student, is considerably higher than the $6,006 nationwide net tuition payment.

47. Pennsylvania
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$3,758
> 5-yr. chg.: -21.8% (3rd largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 355,062 (9th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $9,637 (6th highest)

Pennsylvania invests relatively little in higher education. The state spends only $3,758 per student each year on its public colleges and universities, less than all but three other states. Over the last five years, the amount Pennsylvania spends on its higher educational institutions has dropped by 21.8% per student, the third largest five-year decline in the country. Lower enrollment rates have accompanied the lower investment in the Keystone State. Over the same time period, enrollment dropped by 4.4% compared to a nationwide 2.0% drop in enrollment.

48. Colorado
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$3,529
> 5-yr. chg.: -18.0% (8th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 181,867 (22nd highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $8,083 (11th highest)

While state spending on higher education has not returned to pre-recession levels across the nation, it has generally risen in recent years. This is especially the case in Colorado, where per pupil higher education institution spending rose 15.7% last year, the third highest of all states and roughly three times the nationwide average pace. The current spending level remains nearly the lowest, however, and university revenue relies more on out-of-pocket tuition payments from students and families as a result. The typical student pays $8,083 annually at a public state university, one of the highest net tuition payments in the nation.

49. Vermont
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$2,818
> 5-yr. chg.: -5.0% (9th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 20,652 (2nd lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $13,496 (2nd highest)

In states such as Vermont with low public higher education spending, universities often rely more heavily on tuition. The average public university student spends $13,496 on tuition each year, the second highest out-of-pocket tuition cost of all states. Both the high spending and low public spending in Vermont are largely due to the relatively high proportion of out-of-state students attending college in Vermont. For example, just 20% of the University of Vermont class of 2019 are Vermonters, a historic low. Out-of-state students are not eligible for state financial aid and pay far higher tuition.

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50. New Hampshire
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$2,591
> 5-yr. chg.: -19.0% (7th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 38,398 (9th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $9,843 (5th highest)

No state invests less in public higher education than New Hampshire, where the government spends an average of $2,591 per pupil annually. As is generally the case in states with low public higher education spending, out-of-pocket tuition costs are relatively high in New Hampshire. At $9,843 per student, out-of-pocket tuition costs are fifth highest nationwide. The low public investment has not prevented greater numbers of students from enrolling in New Hampshire schools, however. Enrollment grew by 3.8% last year, the highest of all states and in stark contrast with the 1.1% nationwide enrollment decline.