Afternoon Jolt: Higher Ed Funding In Context

By Afternoon Jolt September 7, 2011

Today's Loser: Higher education funding

We already know that the 2011-2013 state budget comes with harsh cuts to higher ed—a $639 million cut, for about a 20 percent hit.

But now we've got some national context for just how badly Washington State's higher education system got clobbered. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) released a report this summer documenting higher ed cuts nationwide and Washington is at the top of the list (or bottom).

Absorbing the third worst hit (New Hampshire topped all 50 states with a massive 48 percent cut in higher ed funding), Washington State cut higher ed funding by 23 percent. That hit tied California's cut and put us right behind Arizona with its 24 percent cut.

The AASCU summarizes:

35 states saw declining state appropriations for public four-year universities compared to fiscal year 2011, contrasted with just eight that received increased funds. Six states had flat funding (see table). There was wide variation, with North Dakota providing the largest increase, at 6.8 percent, and New Hampshire, which witnessed an astonishing 48 percent cut in state appropriations to its public colleges and universities. All told, the collective average change for the states included in the analysis was a negative 6.1 percent. Thirteen states witnessed double-digit decreases. Following New Hampshire with the most severe reductions were Arizona (-24 percent), California (-23 percent), Washington (-23 percent), Colorado (-21 percent), Pennsylvania (-18 percent), Michigan (-15 percent), Nevada (-15 percent), North Carolina (-14 percent), Oregon (-13 percent), Ohio (-11 percent), Wisconsin(-11 percent) and South Dakota (-10 percent).

Specifically, higher ed funding dropped from $3 billion in the 2009-2011 budget (10 percent of the $30 billion state budget) to $2.4 billion slated for the 2011-2013 budget (8 percent of the $32 billion state budget.)

And keep in mind, the funding drop is even worse than the numbers show because in order to maintain the services that $3 billion in higher ed funding paid for in 2009-2011, we'd certainly have to spend more than $3 billion in 2011-2013—not, as we are,  $639 million less.
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