President Obama has talked about the need to “win the future” by investing in higher education, but based on the deep budget cuts states have made in recent years, it looks more like we’re trying to forfeit. A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities finds that states are now spending 28 percent less per student on higher education than they were before the recession. Many states have experienced a budget crunch due to decreased tax revenues, but instead of raising tax rates to close the gap, they’ve often resorted to counterproductive cuts in public resources and services. In the case of higher education, those cuts have been passed on to students and their families in the form of soaring tuition rates. CBPP finds that per-student revenue fell by $2,600 while per-student tuition rose by $2,600 in the last 25 years. But even tuition hikes aren’t covering the full cost of state budget cuts, so public colleges and universities have been forced to lay off staff and elminate programs while students wind up paying more for less.
The Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network and the United States Students Association released a report this week on Millennial solutions to the student debt crisis, and this is part of the problem. If we’re not willing to invest more in our public university systems, we won’t just be driving students further into debt. We’ll be denying them the quality education they need to become productive and competitive members of the work force.