Report Says State Increases in Higher Education Funding Not Keeping Pace with Inflation

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Although the U.S. economy is improving, that improvement will not necessarily include the economic condition of higher education, according to an analysis of state fiscal conditions released late last month by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

The AASCU special report, "State Fiscal Conditions," acknowledges that public colleges and universities have benefitted, somewhat, from the health of state coffers. However, according to the report, they still struggle for priority in funding decisions.

States` appropriations for higher education grew 8.5 percent from 1995 to 1997. But when compared to higher education's share of state general fund expenditures, the numbers remain stagnant. In fact, higher education's piece of the state-appropriations pie has decreased from 15.5 percent in 1987 to 12.9 percent in 1996 as colleges and universities compete with public schools and Medicaid funding.

"State spending for public colleges and universities had improved significantly over the past couple of years, but remains lower than Fiscal Year 1980 levels when adjusted for inflation and enrollment growth," the report said. …