A Good Year in the States
State appropriations for higher education will top $66 billion for the 2005-6 academic year, a 5.3 percent increase.
Tight state budgets limited spending on public colleges and state student aid during the first part of this decade, and the latest figures suggest a significant turnaround. The data come from state higher education agencies, and are then collected by the Center for the Study of Education Policy, at Illinois State University.
Data on individual colleges and tables showing the evolution of state spending on colleges are available on the center's Web site.
The state with the largest percentage increase this year was Hawaii, with a gain of 20.1 percent. Two other states are reporting double-digit increases: Alabama (+14.9 percent) and Montana (+13.2 percent). Another nine states had increases of at least 7.5 percent: California, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia and Washington.
Only four states reported appropriating less money for this year than for last: West Virginia (-6.0 percent), Illinois (-2.6 percent), Mississippi (-0.9 percent) and Missouri (-0.6 percent).
The Illinois State research center has for decades been the best source for data on state appropriations for higher education. The center's system for calculating totals focuses on state funds -- tuition revenue and local government support are excluded, even though the former is a significant revenue source at many public universities and the latter at many community colleges. Figures showing increases also don't necessarily mean that a college or its employees will be feeling flush: Many of the states showing significant increases are also those with booming enrollments, so the demands on these states are also up.
As many a public college employee can testify, state funds are sometimes appropriated to an institution and then taken back. The Illinois State center updates its numbers so the appropriations for this year are compared to actual appropriations last year (after any cuts), not the initial appropriation. Louisiana is among the states this year that is making cuts to the figures down below, which were approved pre-Katrina.
State Appropriations for Higher Education, 2005-6
|State||2005-6 Appropriations||1-Year Change|
Source: Center for the Study of Education Policy, Illinois State University