The last recession had an impact on higher education spending across the country. But, for the third consecutive year, that spending has increased overall, by 4%. The data, based on 2015, is still preliminary, as Illinois and Pennsylvania are still negotiating budgets for a fiscal year, which started last July. Otherwise though, 39 states have increased their spending on higher education in the last year.
The amount spent on higher education varies from state to state, as do the increases or, in some cases, decreases. Kentucky improved spending by only 0.1%, while Oregon increased it by 16%, with the other states falling somewhere in the middle. A total of nine states reported lower funding than they had the previous year, ranging from a meager 0.1% decrease in New Jersey, to a whopping -14% in Arizona. Arizona still leads the country in cutting higher education funding, which is now 27% lower than it was in 2011, followed by Louisiana, which is spending 25% less than they did in 2011.
Overall though, the outlook is, if not great, improving somewhat. It’s a slow recovery, but that recovery is there. The last recession hit as they usually do in America, affecting lower-income people and public services, while major corporations continue to rake it in. School funding is always a contentious issue, although people don’t seem to get quite so up in arms about higher education than they do about primary or even secondary education.
Public education has a long history in the United States; it was a defining feature of the early republic, and has only in recent years come under sustained attack by conservatives. Cuts to education rarely come out of liberal governments, and numbers attempts to undermine public education in the last few years have been blatant attempts to reduce the efficacy of that system, to the detriment of students everywhere.