Report: States cut billions to higher-ed during the recession

A bill advancing in the New Jersey Legislature would authorize the state’s police and firefighters unions to manage their own pension funds. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

A bill advancing in the New Jersey Legislature would authorize the state’s police and firefighters unions to manage their own pension funds. (Alan Tu/WHYY)

A study by a national research group finds that states have cut funds for higher education by nearly $9 billion since the 2008 recession.

Mike Mitchell is an analyst with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He said lower state funding for colleges has meant tuition increases, forcing students to incur more debt to pay for college.

“As costs increase it may push students to take a semester or two off to save money, which can mean a longer time to graduation. But there’s also the threat that those students may never finish, and that’s a very precarious situation to be in. That means that you have debt but you might not have that credential to help you pay that debt off.”

Brandon McKoy is an analyst with New Jersey Policy Perspective. He said the state’s funding for colleges and university is 21 percent below pre-recession levels while tuition has gone up 17 percent.

“The state really needs to make a more significant effort to invest in higher education so that our colleges and universities can be not only high quality but also affordable and accessible for all New Jersey students and families.”

The state did increase spending on higher education by $23 per pupil this year, and McKoy hopes that’s the beginning of a trend.

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