State Higher Education Funding
Share |

Higher Education Affordability through State Funding

Despite the growing economic need for students to pursue higher education, many states are not maintaining the level of investment required to meet the moment. Only a handful of states have fully recovered to their pre-Great Recession funding levels for higher education. Additionally, NCAN’s affordability research shows a shrinking proportion of public institutions are affordable for a recipient of the average Pell Grant.

States should maintain a predictable, goal-oriented strategy for funding higher education. Tuition-setting typically takes place upon state legislatures completing budget appropriations and depends on what is allocated for higher education. The unpredictability of this process can make it difficult for students to budget for higher education and risks negative impacts on college attendance and affordability.  

NCAN recommends that states:

  • Prioritize affordability in tuition-setting policy.
  • Pass a budget without undue delay.
  • Announce changes to tuition on a timeline that allows institutions and students to respond.

State higher education funding resources:

  • State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO)
    • SHEEO produces an annual report on State Higher Education Finance, which contextualizes the state of funding in states and the consequences of public policy made by state legislatures.
    • In the past, SHEEO has produced a report on “Aligning Tuition Policies with Strategies for Affordability” to explain how tuition-setting policy impacts college affordability. The report highlights the results of a survey in which 49 states participated. Additionally, SHEEO outlines the primary factors in tuition pricing, discusses means by which states are already stimulating affordability by improving tuition-setting policy, and provides recommendations for states to improve on this front.