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January 22, 2013 2:33 PM State Funding Bounces Back?

By Daniel Luzer

State funding for higher education, which has been going down since the 2008 recession began, is finally increasing again. But that doesn’t mean all is well.

According to an article by Eric Kelderman in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

In the current fiscal year, 30 states actually increased their appropriations for colleges and financial aid, ranging from 0.1 percent in New Mexico to nearly 14 percent in Wyoming, according to an annual survey [conducted by researchers at Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers].
“Barring a further downturn in the economy, the relatively small overall change … suggests that higher education may be at the beginning stages of a climb out of the fiscal trough caused by the last recession,” says a news release accompanying the survey data.

The trouble is that these increases won’t make up for the drastic cuts to state universities over the last four years. State appropriations to higher education have fallen 11 percent since the 2008 fiscal year. And public support for higher education is unlikely to increase dramatically in the future.

A recent report by Moody’s Investors Services indicated the entire higher education world would face trouble in coming years due to likely cuts in federal research dollars, increasing price sensitivity of families, and a smaller number of high school graduates.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer