Office of Planning and Budgeting

Report Confirms Deep Cuts to Higher Ed Across US

The SHEEO State Higher Education Finance report for FY 2010 was released last week. Unsurprisingly, it confirms that the same general pattern in Washington of deep state cuts to higher education funding coupled with steep tuition increases is being replicated in states across the US.

Report Highlights: National Trends

Nationally, on average, state support for public high education per full-time-equivalent (FTE) student declined by about 7 percent between 2009 and 2010, and, at $6,454 per student, is at its lowest level in 25 years. The reports notes that average increases in net tuition revenue of 3.4 percent per student partially offset these budget cuts.

These cuts comes at a time when enrollment continues to grow partly due to more citizens seeking out higher education during the economic crisis. Nationally, enrollment grew by 15 percent between 2005 and 2010. Even when state and federal and increased tuition support manage to stay whole or increase, the report notes that increasing enrollments continue to erode per student funding levels over time.

The report highlights the importance that state support continues to play in education related spending by public institutions even as tuition revenue rises. They acknowledge that this importance is sometimes obscured by the complex finances of large institutions that have many other (non-fungible) funding sources.

Ultimately, SHEEO purports that public and policymaker values are consistent with continued public support for higher education, and they are hopeful that investment will rise again once state budgets stabilize and improve.

Report Highlights: Washington State

SHEEO presents the following averages for Washington State higher education for the 2005-2010 period:

  • 12th in increased enrollment in public higher education (19.2%).
  • 30th in appropriations per FTE.
  • 40th in percent of net tuition revenue as percent of total education revenue.
  • 40th in total educational revenue per FTE.

These numbers are a testament to the comparatively low tuition rates enjoyed by WA residents combined with lower than average state appropriations.

Read the full report for more data, analysis, and methodological details.

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