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State investment in higher education in the U.S. has increased overall

Feb 16, 2017

State funding for higher education in the U.S. is showing continued growth overall. That's according to the results of the latest Grapevine survey, an annual compilation of data on state fiscal support for higher education.

State funding rose by 3.4% across the U.S. from the 2015-16 to 2016-17 fiscal years. James Palmer is a professor of higher education at Illinois State University and Grapevine Editor.

He told Inside Higher Ed:

We had a modest increase across most states. It's an indication, I think, that there's a willingness across states to fund and increase funding for higher ed.

According to the report, 39 states posted higher education funding increases in varying amounts from 0.2% to 10.5%. Ten states posted decreases, ranging from 0.4% to 8.8%. The report contains no data for Illinois, which is currently entering its second year of a state-budget stalemate.

Governor Rick Snyder recommended an overall increase of 2.5% in Michigan's budget. Half of the increase for each university is guaranteed and the other half is distributed according to performance measures, according to the Detroit Free Press:

The performance funding formula is based on weighted undergraduate completions in critical skills areas, research expenditures, 6-year graduation rates, total completions, administrative costs as a percentage of core expenditures and the percentage of students receiving Pell Grants.

Schools also have to keep tuition increases under 3.8% or they lose their performance funding. Snyder said in a statement to the Free Press:

We have worked diligently each year to increase appropriations for higher education, and I'm proud to now propose an increase that will fully restore higher education funding to previous levels. As a state, we need to continue to invest in higher education to develop the talent that will fill the jobs of Michigan's future.

The Grapevine survey provides a tentative look at the state of higher education funding. It precedes the annual SHEF report, which offers a more complete examination of trends in total state support for higher education, factoring in inflation and enrollment.