What is the state of state higher ed funding?

Only about one in four U.S. adults say postsecondary education is affordable, according to a Gallup survey
By: | January 14, 2020
Photo: Pepi Stojanovski/Unsplash

Total state support for higher education grew by 5% to approximately $96.6 billion in fiscal year 2019-2020, representing the highest increase since 2014-15, according to the annual Grapevine survey.

Funding dropped in only three states—Alaska, Hawaii and New York—with Alaska reporting the biggest decrease, at 11.2%, according to the survey produced by the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers.

Still, funding in each of those states has rebounded to above Great Recession-era levels.

“Overall, the results of the … survey document continued increases, albeit at modest levels, in higher education funding across most states,” the organizations said in a press release.


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Those increases, however, have not led to more favorable perceptions of affordability. Only about one in four U.S. adults surveyed by Gallup said postsecondary education is affordable. The number has remained consistent since 2012, according to Gallup.

At the same time, a majority of adults (60%) said education beyond high school is available to anyone, Gallup reported.

The organization said the expansion of online degree programs and micro-credentialing might have been expected to improve adults’ perceptions of college access. “These programs were designed to improve access to education beyond high school for millions of Americans interested in upskilling and reskilling—unfortunately, public opinion about availability appears stagnant despite these changes,” Gallup said in the survey

Facilities and philanthropy

Capital investments by colleges and universities are at an 11-year high, according to the facilities consulting firm Sightlines. That means college leaders are finding ways to balance the need for top-notch facilities without overspending, University Business reported in November.

Administrators seeking capital funding are looking to niche federal programs, state-issued bonds and grants, bond issues, public-private partnerships, and corporate and individual donors, UB reported.


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Colleges and universities are also reaping the benefits of a new type of philanthropy—giving circles. Eastern Michigan University received $3.5 million from an alumni giving circle called GameAbove, UB also reported in November.

The organization’s 16-member advisory board is diverse, including former student-athletes, current entrepreneurs and successful businesspeople, and university coaches.

GameAbove is donating $2 million to support faculty development and retention and $1.5 million to fund student financial resources for learning clubs, intramural sports, and solutions to student homelessness and other challenges.


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