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State and local governments provided $96.1 billion in support to higher education institutions in FY18, according to the 2018 State Higher Education Finance report by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO). When adjusted for inflation, education appropriations per student remain below the levels reported 10 years ago.

At the height of the Great Recession, educational appropriations per full-time equivalent student (FTE) dropped 13.1 percent in inflation-adjusted value, from $8,848 in FY08 to $7,690 in FY10, and continued to decline annually until FY13. Since then, as the economy has strengthened, per-student state higher education support has increased. From FY17 to FY18, appropriations per student increased from $7,481 to $7,853. However, the FY18 amount is still nearly $1,000 below the pre-recession level.

Meanwhile, the amount of tuition and fee dollars has increased steadily. Over the past decade, per-FTE net tuition and fee dollars increased nearly 39 percent, from $4,898 in FY08 to $6,788 in FY18.

State funding for financial aid programs has increased nearly 30 percent since FY08 to help ease the cost burden on students and families. Nonetheless, many states have seen a decline in enrollment over the past decade, due in part to the increased institutional reliance on tuition. Over the past decade, total FTE enrollment at public colleges and universities has decreased by 3.3 percent.

Free copies of the 2018 State Higher Education Finance Report are available on the SHEEO website.


Ken Redd

Senior Director, Research and Policy Analysis


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