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Oregon first in higher education funding growth

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Staff writer ▼ | January 27, 2016
University of Oregon
Education   One-year increases was 16.2% in Oregon

Data from 48 states in a Grapevine survey show an overall 4.1% increase in state fiscal support for higher education from Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) to Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16).

A complete picture of FY16 funding will not emerge, however, until state budgets are finalized in Illinois, which has not yet enacted an FY16 budget, and Pennsylvania, which has enacted only a partial budget.

Grapevine tables will be updated as those budget negotiations are resolved and FY16 data for those states become available.

Until then, the Grapevine data suggest a modest increase in state funding for higher education nationwide. Of the 48 states reporting data, 39 experienced one-year increases between FY15 and FY16 that ranged from 0.1% in Kentucky to 16.2% in Oregon. The remaining nine states reported decreases ranging from 0.1% in New Jersey to 14% in Arizona.

Comparisons with funding available two years ago in Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) show a similar pattern: While seven of the 48 states registered decreases between FY14 and FY16 that ranged from 1.4% in Arkansas to 10.2% in Arizona, the remaining 41 states reported increases ranging from 1.1% in Delaware to 32.1% in Wisconsin.

It should be noted, though, that Wisconsin’s outsized increase between FY14 and FY16 reflects a shift in funding sources rather than a genuine increase in monies available to higher education. As a consequence of a property tax relief effort, increases in state funding substituted for reductions in local property tax revenues available to the Wisconsin’s technical colleges.

The tentative picture of modest overall increases is also supported by longer-term trends. Factoring in federal stimulus monies allocated to higher education in Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11), fifteen states reported that fiscal support for higher education in FY16 was lower than fiscal support five years ago.

Higher education systems in two of those states—Arizona and Louisiana—are now operating at levels of fiscal support that are more than 20% below FY11 funding. Yet the overall picture this year is more positive than the results of last year’s survey, which showed that FY15 funding for higher education in 25 states was lower than the funding available five years previously in 2010.

This suggests an ongoing albeit slow recovery in many states from the losses experienced in the wake of the last recession. This relatively positive picture, however, may change if Illinois and Pennsylvania ultimately report decreases from FY15 to FY16. Both are large states that have a considerable influence on national averages.


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