Why has the average annual net price of a four-year public college, after grants and scholarships, doubled in inflation-adjusted terms from 1997–98 to 2017–18? A leading culprit behind this increased cost is reduced state support—but why has state support dropped off? In an analysis for Education Next, Douglas Webber looks at state spending decisions over the past 30 years to determine the relationship between state higher-education funding declines and increases in other categories. He finds that 53% of the higher-education spending decline is explained by public-welfare spending. To learn more about the gradual decline in public financial support of higher education over the past 30 years, read Webber’s “Higher Ed, Lower Spending” online.

—Education Next

Last updated May 3, 2018