A Lost Decade in Higher Education Funding State Cuts Have Driven up Tuition and Reduced Quality

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Center on Budget and Policy Priorities


A decade since the Great Recession hit, state spending on public colleges and universities remains well below historic levels, despite recent increases. Overall state funding for public two- and four-year colleges in the 2017 school year (that is, the school year ending in 2017) was nearly $9 billion below its 2008 level, after adjusting for inflation. The funding decline has contributed to higher tuition and reduced quality on campuses, as colleges have had to balance budgets by reducing faculty, limiting course offerings, and in some cases closing campuses. This report examines the state cuts that have driven up tuition and reduced quality.



Higher education costs, higher education funding, higher education spending, higher education quality, recessions