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Young Invincibles’ Third Annual State Report Cards Show Burden of Disinvestment in Public Higher Education

January 7, 2016

CONTACT: Sarah Schultz,, 202 734 6510

Third Annual State Report Cards Show Burden of Disinvestment in Public Higher Education

[WASHINGTON] – Young Invincibles has released its 3rd annual State Report Cards, grading each state on its support for public higher education. Young Invincibles looked at how each state makes higher education an accessible opportunity for its students, factoring and indexing dozens of metrics including rises in tuition, financial burden on families, and funding of need-based financial aid.

New this year, Young Invincibles also analyzed minority attainment gaps in each state. Education is a driver of socio-economic mobility and may be the best avenue to foster social and racial justice; yet disturbingly, the national higher education attainment gap has grown for both Latinos and African Americans.

Key findings include:

  • Slashed budgets: Forty-eight states spend less per student on higher education than they did prior to the recession (all but Alaska and North Dakota).
  • Skyrocketing tuition: Tuition is up $1,868, or 28 percent, since 2008 – that’s over twice the rate of inflation.
  • Racial inequality: 18 states failed our new measure of racial attainment equity. Nationally between 2007 and 2015, the higher education attainment gap between white non-Hispanic adults and Latinos grew by 2.2 percentage points, and the gap for African Americans widened by 0.4 points.
  • Failures: 19 states received an overall grade of F. This number of failing states is up from 11 last year.

Three-quarters of our nation’s students attend public colleges, which rely on stable budget support and sound policies from state legislatures to provide affordable, quality education. But since the Great Recession, states have slashed their higher education budgets, and now students and families are shouldering the burden. State divestment from higher education is the main driver in our student debt crisis, and we know the groundswell of attention around this issue has just begun, especially in light of state legislative sessions starting this week and the 2016 presidential election. A recent poll conducted by Young Invincibles found that Millennial voters overwhelmingly support increasing state funding for public colleges by an 81 to 17 percent margin.

Click here to see the full report including report cards for all 50 states: State Report Cards 2016.

This map also summarizes the results.