On campus beat: Tuition makes up for state funding

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 21, 2012 - 7:02 PM

Tuition is filling the hole dug by falling state funding, a new report shows.

In 2011, Minnesota's state funding for public colleges and universities fell 14.2 percent -- per full-time student, after adjusting for inflation -- according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers. Meanwhile, net tuition per student rose by 12.8 percent.

Here and nationally, state and local funding hit its lowest figure in 25 years. It was "a lousy year for higher-education finance," the Chronicle of Higher Education noted.

In many states, that trend has meant less revenue for public colleges and universities, overall. But in Minnesota, despite a dramatic drop in state support from 2006 to 2011, the total revenue per student grew slightly, thanks to higher tuition.

"Few states have been successful at doing that -- holding spending steady," said Jack Rayburn of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

From 2006 to 2011, per-student tuition revenue rose 41.5 percent in Minnesota, compared with a 15.8 percent national average. Only Hawaii and Illinois had greater jumps.

In a statement, Larry Pogemiller, the Minnesota office's director, put it this way: "Minnesotans are continuing to invest in higher education in spite of decreased state funding. However, to do so, education has had to rely on tuition revenue with students and families borrowing more."

The new report relies on aggregate figures and doesn't give any information about how, say, funding and tuition for the University of Minnesota compared with those for two-year community colleges.

But it's stuffed with fascinating charts and bar graphs that show where Minnesota lands in the spectrum of states on enrollment growth (below average), cuts to state funding (above average) and net tuition as a percent of total educational revenue (above average).

On that last one: In Minnesota, net tuition comprised 59 percent of revenue for public institutions in 2011. Just 10 states had a higher percentage.

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168

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