States Investing the Most in Higher Education

May 26, 2016 by Thomas C. Frohlich

John Harvard Statue
Source: Thinkstock
The total cost of attending college in the United States has risen dramatically in recent decades — faster than inflation and faster than wage growth.Government investments in public higher education can lower tuition expenses for college students, but many governments actually cut their education funding significantly when the recession hit. While in the last three years, state spending of public universities has begun to recover, growing to $6,966 per student last year, state-level support for higher education institutions still trails pre-recession levels.

Higher education funding is a complex process, involving where funds come from such as tax policy, and where the funds are spent, such as financial aid, administrative support, and so on. The needs of the population and the political climate also play a role in these decisions. To identify the states spending the most and least on higher education, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed per pupil public higher education spending from The State Higher Education Executive Officers’ report, “State Higher Education Finance: FY 2015.”

College costs are still on the rise across the country. However, according to George Pernsteiner, president of SHEEO, “who is paying that cost has [also] shifted dramatically.”

Click here to see the states investing the most in higher education.

Net tuition — after government and institutional aid and excluding room and board and other fees — as a percent of total educational revenue has nearly doubled since 1990. That year, just 25% of public university revenue came from out-of-pocket tuition payments. Today, 46.5% of the typical public U.S. university budget comes from non-government sources. “As state and local spending per student goes down, the tuition goes up,” Pernsteiner said.

A portion of this shift of public university financing from state governments to students and families occurred during the recession. Economic changes have an outsized impact on state financing programs, including higher education funding — education budgets tend to be reduced during budget shortfalls.

In states providing above-average higher education financial support, university revenue tends to rely less on tuition. Of the 18 states with annual per pupil public university investments exceeding the national average of $6,966, only four have per student net tuition of $6,006 or greater.

The number of students enrolled at U.S. public universities has risen by 43.4% since 1990. Enrollment rose sharply during the recession, and has since tapered off, declining in each of the last four years but still higher than in 2008. According to SHEEO, these declines contributed to per pupil spending increases. Of the 19 states with faster-than-average spending growth over the past five years, 14 had enrollment declines greater than the national average drop.

To identify the states spending the most on higher education, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed state higher education investments per full time student in the 2015 academic year. How states allocate money to public colleges and universities varies, but the majority of money goes to general operations of the institutions with the rest going to various forms of student aid. These figures come from “State Higher Education Finance (SHEF): FY 2015,” a report by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO). Net tuition, defined as out-of-pocket tuition payments excluding financial aid, room and board, and other fees, also came from SHEEO. Median household income and educational attainment rates came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey.

These are the states spending the most on higher education.

1. Wyoming
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$17,300
> 5-yr. chg.: 18.3% (3rd largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 24,041 (3rd lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $3,033 (2nd lowest)

No state spends more per full time student on public higher education institutions than Wyoming. Wyoming invests the equivalent of $17,300 per student, more than double the $6,966 national average. The high per-student spending is partially due to the very low number of students in the state. There are only 24,041 students enrolled full time at public universities in Wyoming, fewer than in every other state except for Alaska and Vermont.

2. Alaska
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$14,112
> 5-yr. chg.: 6.6% (8th largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 19,904 (the lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,181 (14th lowest)

Public university spending has risen across the nation over the last few years. Alaska, however, is one of only a handful of states to cut its higher education spending last year. Despite the spending cut, the state’s per pupil expenditure of $14,112 trails only Wyoming. Also, unlike most states, higher education investment in Alaska is up from 2008. The high per pupil spending in Alaska is at least partially due to the extremely low number of students. At fewer than 20,000, total full-time enrollment in public Alaskan universities is the lowest of all states.

3. Illinois
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$11,518
> 5-yr. chg.: 32.5% (the largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 423,146 (5th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,237 (15th lowest)

Over the last five years, per-pupil spending in the Illinois public university system shot up 32.5%, far more than in any other state, in contrast with the nationwide 2.4% decline in such spending. However, according to SHEEO, increased spending was driven by the state meeting its public university pension obligation, which in Illinois have been historically underfunded. Funding for the rest of the public higher education system has actually declined over the same time period.

4. North Carolina
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$8,894
> 5-yr. chg.: -1.7% (2nd smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 391,990 (7th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $4,583 (9th lowest)

The majority of the 391,990 students that study in higher education public institutions in North Carolina are enrolled in the 166 universities that comprise the UNC system, including NC State. Today, the state spends 1.7% less per student than it did five years ago. Partially due to funding cuts, students at a public institution in North Carolina pay 52.0% more for tuition than they did five years ago. Despite the increase, students at public post-secondary institutions pay an average of $4,583 per year, one of the lowest in the country.

5. New York
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$8,830
> 5-yr. chg.: 2.1% (12th largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 567,465 (4th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,073 (13th lowest)

There are more than half a million students enrolled in New York State’s public post-secondary education system, making it the fourth largest in the country. Through various forms of financial aid, as well as funding general facility operations, the state spends $8,830 annually per full-time student. The state’s spending on public education on a per pupil basis increased by 2.1% over the past five years, a departure from the nationwide trend of declining expenditures. Over that same time period, nationwide funding decreased 2.4%.

6. New Mexico
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$8,799
> 5-yr. chg.: 9.5% (6th largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 96,110 (17th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $3,725 (4th lowest)

New Mexico spends the equivalent of $8,799 per full time student on public higher education, more than in all but a handful of other states. Largely as a result, full time students enrolled at public education institutions in the state pay relatively little out of pocket. Full time public university and community college students in New Mexico pay an average of $3,725 per academic year, far less than the $6,006 corresponding national figure.

7. California
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$8,522
> 5-yr. chg.: 16.7% (4th largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 1,539,822 (the highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $2,349 (the lowest)

With more than 1.5 million full-time students, California’s public university and college system is by far the largest in the country, considerably larger than Texas, the next largest. With relatively high state spending per full-time student, the average out-of-pocket costs for tuition in California are the lowest in the country. After receiving state and other financial aid and excluding room and board, the typical public college or university student pays $2,349 per academic year in California, less than half what they average student pays nationwide at $6,006.

8. Hawaii
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$8,405
> 5-yr. chg.: -7.1% (12th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 39,432 (11th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $4,175 (6th lowest)

Public universities in Hawaii receive 7.1% less funding per student from the state than they did five years ago, a considerably larger decline compared to the national average drop of 2.4% over that period. However, as higher education spending increased by 5.2% across the nation last year due to the recovery from the recession, Hawaii’s investment in higher education per pupil increased by 8.4%. The state’s current per pupil expenditure of $8,405 is among the highest in the country. A portion of this spending goes to tuition grants for in-state students, which could explain the relatively low out-of-pocket tuition costs of $4,175 per student per year.

9. Nebraska
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$8,202
> 5-yr. chg.: 9.9% (5th largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 79,182 (15th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,372 (18th lowest)

The University of Nebraska, a public institution, employs some 13,000 faculty and staff, making it the single largest employer in the state. Supporting so many jobs is not cheap, and as a result, state spending on public education is among the highest in the country at $8,202 per full-time student. Nebraska has also increased spending on public higher education institutions by 9.9% in the last five years, bucking the national trend of a five-year 2.4% decrease.

I'm interested in the Newsletter
 

10. Connecticut
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$8,090
> 5-yr. chg.: -13.7% (14th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 87,403 (16th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $8,077 (12th highest)

Despite the relatively high investment from the state on higher education, Connecticut students pay more than the average student nationwide to attend public colleges and universities. Students pay an average of $8,077 out of pocket in tuition costs per academic year, roughly $2,000 more than the national average. The out-of-pocket cost is largely driven up by out of state students. At UConn, Connecticut’s largest public university, approximately 30% of students are from out of state, and tuition for out-of-state students can cost three times more than in-state tuition.

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.

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.

I'm interested in the Newsletter
 

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.

21. Massachusetts
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$6,728
> 5-yr. chg.: 7.3% (7th largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 170,703 (24th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,028 (12th lowest)

With a statewide median household income of $69,160, roughly $15,500 higher than is typical nationwide, Massachusetts has a relatively strong tax base. A state’s tax climate is one of numerous factors influencing higher education investments, and higher tax revenue by no means guarantees a state will increase financial support for public universities. Still, the broader tax base in Massachusetts may partially explain the rapid increase in spending since the end of recession. The state now spends 7.3% more on higher education than it did five years ago. Meanwhile, nationwide spending is down 2.4% from five years ago.

22. Nevada
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$6,682
> 5-yr. chg.: -21.7% (5th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 66,924 (13th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $4,150 (5th lowest)

Most states have increased spending on higher education in the last three years. Nevada, however, is a notable exception. In Nevada, investment in per pupil higher education is 4.9% lower than it was last year, while nationwide, state investment in higher education is up 5.2%. Nevada cut spending far more than most states since 2008. Higher education spending per student declined 34.5% from 2008, just before the worst funding cuts occurred across the nation, more than double the corresponding 15.3% nationwide decline.

23. Maine
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$6,546
> 5-yr. chg.: -1.7% (2nd smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 35,608 (6th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $8,728 (7th highest)

Maine spends slightly less per student on higher education than is typical across all states. Partially as a result, the average out-of-pocket tuition cost at a public institution is $8,728 per student, considerably more than the $6,006 nationwide figure. Though higher education tuition is relatively costly for full-time, public school students in Maine, the cost has not increased as dramatically as it has in most states over the last five years. Costs have only increased 5.2% over the last five years, the second smallest increase of any state and considerably less than the 23.1% nationwide spike in out-of-pocket tuition.

24. Florida
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$6,271
> 5-yr. chg.: -4.3% (7th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 601,292 (3rd highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $3,188 (3rd lowest)

Florida spends $6,271 on higher education per student, slightly less than the $6,966 national average. Despite lower than average state investment, out-of-pocket costs for full-time students are among the lowest in the nation. The typical student at a public college or university in Florida pays $3,188 annually, far less than the $6,006 national tuition cost average.

25. Missouri
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$6,102
> 5-yr. chg.: -7.9% (14th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 186,936 (20th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,896 (22nd lowest)

States across the country have slashed investment in higher education since the recession. Missouri cut more than average, spending today 18.5% less than it did before the recession compared to a nationwide average 15.3% reduction in higher education appropriations. However, Missouri has ramped up education spending per student over the last year far more rapidly than the average national increase. The state now spends $6,102 per student on higher education, a 13.0% increase over the previous year and more than double the nationwide average increase of 5.2% over last year.

26. Utah
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$6,062
> 5-yr. chg.: 4.9% (11th largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 120,352 (19th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,021 (11th lowest)

State funding for public universities in Utah is down by 18.9% since 2008, a slightly larger reduction than the national average decline of 15.3% over that time. The decrease in per pupil spending was driven largely by enrollment increases. Since the recession, full-time enrollment at public colleges and universities in Utah has increased by 16.5%, nearly double the enrollment increase nationwide. The decreased expenditure has also shifted the financial burden to students and families. Today, full-time students at public colleges or universities in Utah pay 33.4% more out of pocket than they did before the recession.

27. Wisconsin
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,991
> 5-yr. chg.: -8.6% (16th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 219,490 (17th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,498 (19th lowest)

State funding for public higher education institutions in Wisconsin fell by 8.6% per student over the last five years, faster than the nationwide decline. Per pupil higher education spending reductions often reflect enrollment increases, while per pupil expenditures often rise as enrollment decreases. In Wisconsin, enrollment actually fell by 7.5% over the last five years, implying the spending cut may have been larger than it appears.

Like many other states with relatively large higher education cutbacks, out-of-pocket tuition payments in Wisconsin also commensurately.

28. Kansas
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,837
> 5-yr. chg.: -6.3% (10th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 137,036 (23rd lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $6,174 (24th lowest)

Nearly every state has yet to reach pre-recession level spending on higher education, and Kansas’s recovery is even slower than average. Kansas spends 6.3% less per student today than it did five years ago, while spending nationwide is only 2.4% shy of where it was half a decade ago. Though Kansas increased its investment in higher education by 1.9% last year, spending nationwide has outpaced Kansas’s considerably, increasing by 5.2% last year.

29. Alabama
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,774
> 5-yr. chg.: -10.5% (18th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 195,411 (19th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $10,098 (4th highest)

The typical Alabama household earns only $42,830 a year, roughly $11,000 less than the typical American household. With a relatively weak tax base to begin with, the recession likely affected state spending drastically, particularly on higher education. Even after a slight increase in higher education funding in the last year, the state today spends 37.9% less per student on public colleges and universities and financial aid than it did in 2008, the second largest funding decrease in the country.

I'm interested in the Newsletter
 

30. New Jersey
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,766
> 5-yr. chg.: -14.7% (10th largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 270,053 (13th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $8,680 (8th highest)

After years of cutbacks during the recession, state investment in public higher education is on the rise again. Still, New Jersey is one of only 10 states where financial support for higher education declined last year. Like most states with relatively low — and declining — per pupil higher education expenditures, public universities in New Jersey have relied increasingly on financial support from students and families. After state and institutional financial aid is received and excluding room, board, and other expenses, the typical public university student in New Jersey pays $8,680 each year, the eighth highest net tuition payment of all states.

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.

36. Arizona
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,350
> 5-yr. chg.: -23.8% (2nd largest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 274,235 (12th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $7,331 (21st highest)

Arizona now spends $2,975 less per full-time, public college or university student than it did before the recession. Only four states had larger spending reductions per student. Students have picked up the tab for the lost revenue. Tuition costs for full-time students at public institutions have gone up by an average of $2,768 over the same time period, the fourth largest increase of any state. Arizona State University is one of the largest public education institutions in the country.

37. Montana
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,248
> 5-yr. chg.: 6.4% (9th largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 38,732 (10th lowest)
> Tuition cost per student: $5,535 (21st lowest)

At $5,248 per pupil, Montana invests less in public higher education than most states. However, while most states have reduced per student higher education spending since 2008, Montana increased financial support for public universities by 1.5%. Higher education expenditures per student are also up by 6.4% over the last five years, in contrast with the nationwide decline of 2.4% over that period. Higher funding from public sources means public universities rely less heavily on tuition paid by students and families. Net tuition per student in Montana has risen by just 8.9% since 2008, in contrast with the national average increase of 31.8%.

I'm interested in the Newsletter
 

38. Indiana
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,142
> 5-yr. chg.: -2.9% (4th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 249,218 (14th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $6,696 (23rd highest)

In recent years, public higher education investments have increased across the nation. This reflects the national economic recovery. However, Indiana is one of only 10 states that reduced per-student higher education spending last year. Reductions in public funding usually drive up out-of-pocket costs for students and families. In Indiana, however, per student tuition payments actually decreased last year.

39. Michigan
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,097
> 5-yr. chg.: -4.5% (8th smallest decrease)
> Total public college enrollment: 392,275 (6th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $11,413 (3rd highest)

With nearly 39,000 undergraduates, Michigan State University is one of the largest public education institutions in the country. In total, there are 392,275 full-time students enrolled at public colleges and universities in Michigan, the sixth most of any state. Despite the importance of educational institutions in the state, Michigan invests only $5,097 in higher education annually per student, far less than in the majority of other states.

40. Ohio
> Annual higher ed. spending per student:
$5,078
> 5-yr. chg.: 6.2% (10th largest increase)
> Total public college enrollment: 379,032 (8th highest)
> Tuition cost per student: $7,779 (17th highest)

Only 10 states spend less per student on higher education than Ohio. However, Ohio is ramping up investment faster than is typical. The state increased higher education investment by 18.0% last year, the largest increase of any other state except for Illinois. Enrollment levels have also declined in the Buckeye State, which helped drive up the amount spent per pupil on higher education. Enrollment in the state’s public institutions dropped by 5.7% percent in 2015 from the year before, the third most precipitous enrollment decline in the country.

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.

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.

I'm interested in the Newsletter
 

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.