Public Universities to Get Budget Boost After Years of Cuts

Tuesday, 28 May 2013 02:08 PM

By Melanie Batley

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State legislatures across the country are giving more money to higher education after years of cuts triggered by the economic crisis.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the new funding reflects an improved financial position for many states, 47 of which increased their coffers by an average of 4.5 percent through increased tax revenues, according to Census Bureau data.

"It's going to be a better year for higher education," said Julie Bell who oversees education issues at the National Association of State Legislatures, an organization that represents state lawmakers.

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The cuts to public-university budgets started with the 2008 financial crisis when cash-strapped states focused their resources on the most essential programs such as primary and secondary education, Medicaid and prisons. As state support fell, many schools were forced to increase their tuition, expand the size of classes, and put off maintenance.

But the turning point was last year when 32 states increased funding to public colleges and universities for the current academic year, up from 17 states the year before, the Journal reported.

Still, in many cases, increases were modest: one-third of states increased higher-education funding by less than 1 percent, and it's still unclear how many states will increase funding for the coming academic year as budgets are still not finalized.

"Historically, funding for higher ed tracks the economy," said James Palmer of the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University. "As the economy gets better, state funding for higher education increases. That's been the pattern."


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