Revenue declines in 24 states could lead to massive cuts in higher ed

Dive Brief:

  • More than 24 states are projecting a decrease in tax revenues for this fiscal year, a circumstance that will yield substantial cuts for public higher education across the country. 
  • Missouri has been among the nation's most aggressive states in higher education divestment over the last two years, cutting more than 8% of total sector spending. Smaller schools like Harris-Stowe State University expect the cuts to force tuition increases and financial hardship for low-income students. 
  • The culture of budget trimming is counter to the ongoing construction explosion and competition between institutions for marketing to and enrolling students. 

Dive Insight:

When adding the reality of state budget cuts to increasing signals from Congress that federal funding will also receive substantial reductions in Higher Education Act reauthorization, states charged with more fiscal oversight of college funding are likely to increase efforts to merge and consolidate campuses.

Georgia has already provided the nation with a blueprint for reducing costs through consolidations and is working to reduce commitments in the way of salary, benefit and research expenditures attached to multiple campuses meeting similar missions. Other states like Tennessee have opted to invest in subsidizing colleges which are lower in costs and deliver a higher yield in workforce preparedness and postgraduate employment. 

Nationally, systems will adjust quickly to new revenue realities, and the adjustments could spell the end for smaller liberal arts campuses which don't have the corporate or institutional partnerships to justify their operational existence. 

Filed Under: Higher Ed Policy & Regulation