By Jessica Adair
In today’s economy, higher education is often key to quality employment. State legislatures have every reason to encourage residents to graduate with as little debt as possible, get a job and start spending money in the local economy.
The Great Recession forced most states to slash budgets across the board. As the economy recovers, states must invest vigorously in higher education.
Some states, however, have a disturbingly long way to go — and seem to be making it harder for students to afford college, rather than easier. We analyzed higher education and government data to create state report cards, identifying the best and worst actors. Here’s a snapshot of some states that particularly disappoint us (we gave all of these states “F’s”):
New Hampshire: This state is a recipe for disastrous student debt. Not only must students pay the highest average tuition cost in the country (nearly $15,000 a year!), the state offers no student aid whatsoever. Zero. New Hampshire also spends the least amount of money per student than any other state. It’s no wonder that the average student debt load in the state is about $32,700, which is higher than the national average.
Michigan: You would think that the home of the second-highest-paid college football coach in the country would also provide for its students. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The state has cut its higher education spending by 27% since 2008. The result? Tuition is incredibly high, to the tune of an average yearly cost of $11,600.
Oregon: During the state budget slash-and-burn after the Recession, higher education took a severe hit in Oregon. In 2013, the state spent a shocking 85% less on higher education than it did four years ago. Higher education now accounts for less than 2% of the state budget. Tuition prices reflected the cuts, now 29% higher than before the Recession
Arizona: Students in the Grand Canyon State have had to endure a severe case of sticker shock. The average tuition cost for four-year colleges has increased over 80% since the Recession! Why? It could have something to do with the state cutting funding by 30% per full-time student.
For the sake of students and their families, states should seriously consider prioritizing higher education when developing next year’s budgets. To see how higher education funding fared in your state, find your report card here.