beginning of content:

Key Points

  • Funding per student rose in 2016-17 (in inflation- adjusted dollars) for the fifth consecutive year, following four years of decline.
  • State and local funding per student fell by 24% from $8,270 (in 2016 dollars) in 2006-07 to $6,320 in 2011-12, and then rose by 21% to $7,640 in 2016-17.
  • Between 2011-12 and 2016-17, the combination of a 15% increase in total funding and a 5% decline in enrollment led to a 21% increase in funding per student.
  • In 2016-17, total appropriations were 2% higher (after adjusting for inflation) than a decade earlier ($84.1 billion vs. $82.2 billion), but appropriations per student were 8% lower ($7,640 vs. $8,270). Total appropriations were 38% higher than 30 years earlier (up from $60.8 billion), but appropriations per student were 11% lower (down from $8,540).

Figure 15A: Annual Percentage Change in Inflation-Adjusted Per-Student State and Local Funding for Higher Education and in Tuition and Fees at Public Institutions, 1986-87 to 2016-17

Annual Percentage Change in State and Local Funding and Public Tuition and Fees over Time

NOTES: Enrollment figures are fall FTE enrollments for public two-year and four-year institutions excluding medical students. Tuition and fees reflect an FTE enrollment-weighted average of the public sector prices reported in Table 2. Funding is for both two-year and four-year institutions and includes tax revenues and other state and local funds for higher education, but not funding for capital expenditures.

SOURCES: College Board, Annual Survey of Colleges; NCES, Digest of Education Statistics 2017, Table 307.10; State Higher Education Executive Offices Association (SHEEO), State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) reports; calculations by the authors.

Figure 15B: Total and Per-Student State and Local Funding for Higher Education in 2016 Dollars and Public FTE Enrollment, 1986-87 to 2016-17

Total and Per-Student State and Local Funding for Higher Education in 2016 Dollars and Public FTE Enrollment, 1986-87 to 2016-17

NOTES: Enrollment figures are fall FTE enrollments for public two-year and four-year institutions excluding medical students. Funding is for both two-year and four-year institutions and includes tax revenues and other state and local funds for higher education, but not funding for capital expenditures.

Also Important

  • In 2016-17, local funding represented 13% of total educational appropriations for higher education. Local funding was less than 1% of the total in 24 states, but it was more than half of the total in Arizona and more than 20% of the total in Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, and Texas.