States Investing the Most in Higher Education

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11. Maryland
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$8,024
> 5-yr. chg.: 0%
> Total public college enrollment: 231,570 (16th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $7,819 (14th highest)

Unlike most states with relatively high public higher education per pupil spending, out of pocket tuition expenses are relatively high in Maryland. After receiving state and other financial aid, waivers, discounts, and excluding room and board, the average public university student in Maryland pays $7,819 annually. By contrast, the national net average tuition is just over $6,000.

Close to two in every five adults in Maryland have at least a bachelor’s degree, nearly the highest proportion of any state.

12. North Dakota
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$7,766
> 5-yr. chg.: 21.8% (2nd largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 36,801 (8th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $6,688 (24th highest)

Due largely to the energy boom, North Dakota did not feel the effects of the recession as drastically as other states. Likely as a result, the state’s investment in public education shot up during a time when spending cuts were the norm nationwide. North Dakota spends 21.8% more per full time student on public education than it did five years ago, the second largest such increase in the nation.

13. Texas
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$7,748
> 5-yr. chg.: -19.6% (6th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 993,485 (2nd highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,340 (16th lowest)

Higher education spending per student in Texas was in the top 10 in 2008 and 2010. However, while nationwide per pupil public spending increased by 5.2% last year, it declined by 4.7% in Texas — one of only 10 states where spending did not increase. Further, over the last five years, per student spending dropped by nearly 20%, the sixth largest decline of all states. Still, the relatively high investment from the state has kept the financial support needed from student and family tuition payments relatively low. The annual out-of-pocket tuition expense of $5,340 is lower than the national average cost of $6,006. Also, enrollment in public universities has risen by 15.1% over the last five years in Texas, the second largest increase nationwide.

14. Arkansas
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$7,626
> 5-yr. chg.: -3.6% (6th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 116,948 (18th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,349 (17th lowest)

Low incomes in a state often mean less tax revenue, which for some states can make prioritizing higher education investments more difficult. The median household income in Arkansas is $41,262, nearly the lowest in the country. Yet, Arkansas spends $7,626 on higher education per full-time student, more than most states. Due in part to higher than average spending, the amount students pay out of pocket is about $650 less than is typical nationwide.

Despite the relatively high spending and low tuition costs, only 21.4% of adults in Arkansas have a bachelor’s degree, the third lowest college attainment rate in the country.

15. Oklahoma
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$7,521
> 5-yr. chg.: -15.3% (9th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 136,311 (22nd lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,904 (23rd lowest)

The state of Oklahoma spends $7,521 per student on higher education, down 15.3% from five years ago. Reduced state spending tends to increase out-of-pocket tuition costs for students, and in Oklahoma, students now pay 38.8% less on average than they did five years ago. Despite the lower tuition, total enrollment in Oklahoma’s public higher educational institutions, at 136,311 students, declined by 4.0% over the last five years, double the national decline. Last year, enrollment at Oklahoma public universities dropped by 6.3%, a steeper drop than anywhere else in the country. The lower enrollment should have helped increase per student state spending.