Trends in State Funding and Tuition Revenue for Public Higher Education: 1980-2020

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This study examines trends in state funding and tuition revenue in higher education over the past four decades and updates our past research on the subject using the latest data.

Key points:

  • From 1980 to 2020, inflation-adjusted state funding has increased by $16 to $52 per student per year. These increases indicate that “state disinvestment” is a myth.
  • State funding has completely recovered from the cuts made during the Great Recession.
  • From 1980 to 2020, inflation-adjusted tuition revenue increased by $127 to $143 per student per year.
  • Inflation-adjusted total educational/instructional revenue increased substantially over time, and 2020 set a record high of $15,276 per student.
  • Changes in state funding do not explain changes in tuition.