Public higher education is about to cross a historic threshold, in which students pay a higher percentage than do states of the operating costs of colleges.
Net tuition revenue made up 47 percent of public colleges’ educational costs in 2012, an increase of more than six percentage points from the previous year, according to an annual report from the State Higher Education Executive Officers.
In 1987, the report says, net tuition revenue accounted for just 23 percent of those costs. In 2001 tuition was a little more than a third of the costs.
Tuition has already amounted to more than half of the educational revenue in some individual systems, ranging from the University of California to the community colleges in Iowa and in South Carolina. But surpassing that threshold nationally is a gloomy milestone that reflects the deep state budget cuts that have hit public higher education since the beginning of the economic downturn and, at the same time, steady increases in enrollment.
Per-student spending on education from state and local sources fell to less than $5,900 in the 2012 fiscal year, a 9.1-percent decrease from 2011 and a quarter-century low for the third consecutive year. <Read more.>