The majority of US states now rely more heavily on tuition fees than on government appropriations to fund their public university systems, figures have revealed.
In 28 states, more than 50 per cent of total educational revenues came from tuition in 2016-17, according to a report from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO). It marks the first time that more than half of states relied more on tuition than on government appropriations to finance their higher education systems; 25 states did so in 2015-16.
But, while more individual states relied more on tuition revenue last year, government support increased on average throughout the country.
State and local appropriations for public universities totalled $94.5 billion (£67.3 billion) – a 2.1 per cent increase between 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Overall, net tuition fee revenue contributed $72.3 billion to public higher education funding, accounting for 46.4 per cent of total educational revenue nationally.
Meanwhile, total educational revenues – the sum of state and local support and net tuition – were at their highest level since 1980, and 6 per cent higher than they were in 2008. In 2016-17, total educational revenues increased in 32 states.
Robert Anderson, president of SHEEO, said that tuition revenue “once served as a stopgap for cuts to educational appropriations”, but “we have reached a point where states have more than made up for these funding limitations”.
He added that states “must find a way to balance the scale so that their higher education systems are not disproportionately dependent on the hard-working American people and families who can least afford it”.
The State Higher Education Finance report adds that just six states reached or surpassed their 2008 pre-recession levels of state and local support per full-time equivalent student.
Meanwhile, state financial aid increased by 86 per cent since 2000 to $673 per full-time student in 2016-17, representing 8.8 per cent of overall educational appropriations, according to the report.