States are spending more than $79 billion on higher education in 2010-11, a decline of 0.7 percent from last year, according to a report being released today by the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers.
While a cut of less than 1 percent might seem like a relief, given the magnitude of some of the cuts public higher education systems have faced in recent years, the report contains plenty of danger signs for the future. More than $2.5 billion of the total state spending on higher education came from the federal government in the form of stimulus funds that have now run out. Over two years, state support is down nearly 2 percent — in a period when the same economic downturn that has left state coffers empty has also spurred enrollment increases in much of public higher education, and greater demands for financial aid. And plenty of states are talking about additional cuts for 2011-12.