States Investing the Most in Higher Education

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16. Georgia
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$7,490
> 5-yr. chg.: -3.4% (5th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 344,325 (10th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $4,365 (7th lowest)

Georgia’s annual per pupil public higher education investment of $7,490 is relatively high, and the average out-of-pocket tuition of $4,365 is low compared to other states. While financial support from the state and low tuition might encourage residents to attend college, enrollment fell 7.1% over the last five years, one of the largest drops of all states.

17. Idaho
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$7,379
> 5-yr. chg.: -13.9% (13th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 56,726 (12th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $4,472 (8th lowest)

Per-pupil public higher education spending in Idaho has dropped by more than 30% since 2008, a precipitous drop compared with other states. However, because the annual per pupil investment of $10,647 was nearly the highest in 2008, the state still spends more than most states on its public universities. As government spending declined, out-of-pocket tuition expenses in Idaho rose — by 74.6% from 2008 and by 46.0% over the last five years, each some of the largest tuition fee spikes nationwide. Higher enrollment of non-resident and graduate students can drive up net tuition payments. At Idaho public universities, enrollment has also risen substantially — by 29% since 2008, the largest increase of all states.

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18. Tennessee
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$7,051
> 5-yr. chg.: -14.1% (12th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 185,316 (21st highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $6,352 (25th lowest)

State investment in higher education typically reduces the out-of-pocket costs for students. Tennessee is one of only four states that spends both more than the national average on higher education per student, and where student out-of-pocket costs are higher than the average for all states. While Tennessee spends roughly $100 more per student than the average across the country, full-time public college and university students pay nearly $350 more than the typical student pays nationwide.

19. Kentucky
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$6,898
> 5-yr. chg.: -12.7% (15th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 152,317 (24th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $6,722 (22nd highest)

Kentucky residents are not especially wealthy. The state’s median household income of $42,958 is among the lowest of all states. With a weak tax base, the state’s cost cutting measures during the recession hit public higher education spending harder than in most states. State funding for Kentucky public universities fell by 12.7% per student over the last five years, one of the largest drops. Per pupil higher education spending exceeded the national average spending in 2008. Today, spending is slightly lower than the national average.

20. Mississippi
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$6,896
> 5-yr. chg.: -14.4% (11th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 129,481 (21st lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $6,391 (25th highest)

The typical household in Mississippi earns only $39,680 a year, the lowest median household income in the country. With a weak tax base, the state’s cost cutting measures during the recession hit public higher education spending harder than in most states. In the last five years alone, the the state’s investment in higher education per student declined by 14.4% compared to a 2.4% nationwide decline.