The Illinois State University Center for the Study of Education Policy released its annual report on state tax support for higher education today. According to the Grapevine report, the best case scenario is that for fiscal year 2008-2009 (July 1, 2008-June 30, 2009), state higher education spending grew by an average of 0.9 percent across the country. The report acknowledges this figure is likely rather optimistic, as many states are still in the process of trimming budgets for the current fiscal year, and some are requesting that colleges not spend appropriations they've already received.
While almost flat growth in state spending nationwide is bad enough, the picture looks even worse compared to last year's growth of 7.5 percent, the largest year-to-year increase in higher education spending since 1985. Some states have cut education spending significantly, such as South Carolina and Alabama, whose state education budgets have seen decreases of 17.7 percent and 10.5 percent respectively. Some states still are showing substantial increases in higher ed spending for the current year. The two biggest increases, in Wyoming and Hawaii, are 10.9 and 10.6 percent.
Coupled with shrinking endowments and more student requests for financial aid, this news isn't good for state colleges and universities. Tuition increases, including some substantial ones, are becoming increasingly likely for 2009-2010, despite families' increasing inability to pay for school out of pocket or access lines of credit such as private student loans. This is yet another reason to fill out a FAFSA and do a scholarship search today.