TN cuts in higher ed funding less than national average

Tennessee state government funding to higher education has fallen by 13.9 percent on a per-student basis since 2008 — but that’s less than the average for all states of 16 percent. So reports the Washington -based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities after a review of statistics.

While states have been reinvesting in higher education for the past few years, resources are well below 2008 levels… even as state revenues have returned to pre-recession levels… State spending on higher education nationwide fell $1,448 per student, or 16 percent, after adjusting for inflation.

Per-student funding rose in only five states: Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming. (Arizona had the biggest reduction in per-student funding, 53.8 percent.)

From a story on the report by the USA Today Network – Tennessee:

Tennessee has grown recurring state appropriations for community colleges and undergraduate education by almost $27 million and for all of higher education by $113 million since 2008, according to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. That’s a small amount, though, considering that the 2017-18 budget for the UT system alone is $2.3 billion.

At the same time, the state saw a 9 percent increase in student enrollment at two- and four-year colleges and universities from 2006 to 2016…. (The report) indicated a 53 percent increase in tuition since 2008 at public four-year schools in Tennessee using the figures adjusted for inflation. THEC also reported tuition increases for two- and four-year schools in the 10-year period from 2006 to 2016. 

But higher education officials in Tennessee said the state has been good to higher ed in recent years and is trying to rectify the impact of the recession. Since 2011, the state has increased recurring funds by more than $390 million, according to THEC. That includes funding for medical schools and need-based grants, as well as undergraduate and community college funding.

“In (fiscal year 2018), the administration invested more than $1.8 billion in higher education in total, compared to the more than $1.6 billion in (fiscal year 2011), so the amount of funding in Tennessee is not slowing,” said Jennifer Donnals, spokeswoman for Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration.

“While appropriations adjusted for inflation are still less than they were prior to the recession, Tennessee has taken several steps to offset the impact on students,” said Richard Locker, director of communications for the Tennessee Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s community colleges and technical schools.

…”Governor Haslam has been good to Tennessee and the students of Tennessee,” Locker said. “Thanks to his Tennessee Promise, we were the first state in the nation to provide five semesters of community college free of tuition and mandatory fees, and we’re about to do the same thing for nontraditional students with Tennessee Reconnect.”

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