States Investing the Most in Higher Education

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31. Washington
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,764
> 5-yr. chg.: -11.0% (18th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 242,211 (15th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,503 (20th lowest)

Largely as a result of state-level public higher education cuts, Washington universities rely far more on tuition payments from students and families today than in 2008. Nationwide, public higher education spending per student increased 5.2% last year. Washington, by contrast, is one of just 10 states where such spending declined in the last year. Although the Washington average out-of-pocket tuition payment of $5,503 is lower than the national average per pupil tuition cost, it is 66.5% higher than it was in 2008, the fourth largest increase over that period of all states.

32. Minnesota
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,695
> 5-yr. chg.: -10.2% (17th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 197,724 (18th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $7,740 (18th highest)

Typically, the amount a state invests in higher education directly affects the amount students pay out of pocket. In Minnesota, however, the relationship is not as clear cut. In the last year, higher education spending per student in Minnesota increased by 5.9%, roughly in line with the 5.2% average national increase last year. However, the amount students pay out of pocket has actually dropped by 0.6% over that same time period. Meanwhile, average tuition costs for students nationwide increased by 2.5%.

33. Louisiana
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,564
> 5-yr. chg.: -28.5% (the largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 165,329 (25th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $4,881 (10th lowest)

Louisiana cut per student spending on higher education the most since the recession began. Today, the state spends 41.2% less per student than it did before the recession and 28.5% less than it did just five years ago. The amount a state invests on public colleges and universities and financial aid programs tends to directly affect how much students pay. Today, students at public colleges or universities in Louisiana spend 61.2% more than they did in 2008 and 65.6% more than they did five years ago.

34. West Virginia
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,542
> 5-yr. chg.: -7.6% (13th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 72,765 (14th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $7,455 (20th highest)

Nationwide, enrollment at public universities rose considerably during the recession. With the recovery, enrollment has since levelled off but remains 8.6% higher than it was in 2008. West Virginia, by contrast, is one of only three states where enrollment is down compared to 2008. The one- and five-year enrollment declines of 4.5% and 7.7%, respectively, are also among the largest compared to other states. Even though state universities have not had to keep pace with rapidly growing student bodies, the declines in public investment partially explains the relatively high out-of-pocket per tuition spending in the state. At $7,455 per student, tuition costs in the state are greater than they are in the average state.

35. Iowa
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,515
> 5-yr. chg.: -7.9% (14th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 124,883 (20th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $8,267 (10th highest)

Since the recession, changes in higher education spending and enrollment in Iowa have mimicked broader nationwide trends. Iowa spends 17.6% less on higher education per student than it did in 2008, while spending dropped 15.3% nationwide over the same time period. Despite deeper spending cuts in the state and resultant increase in out-of-pocket tuition costs, enrollment has kept exactly on pace with the rest of the country, going up by 8.6% since the recession.