Though there has been a decline in state higher-education funding per student, states are not spending less on higher education overall; in fact, total state and local spending increased by 13.5 percent (in inflation-adjusted terms) from 1987 to 2015 nationwide. The student population, however, increased far more rapidly than state spending did during the same window of time, growing by 57.4 percent. Doug Webber, in an article for Education Next, finds that 53% of the higher-education spending decline is explained by public-welfare spending. To learn more about how public-welfare spending has affected state financial support of higher education over the past 30 years, read Webber’s “Higher Ed, Lower Spending” online.
Last updated May 11, 2018