Annual Percentage Changes in State Appropriations and Public Four-Year Prices over Time

In 2012-13, public colleges and universities received an average of $6,646 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student in state funding — 27% less than the $9,111 (in 2012 dollars) per FTE student they received five years earlier.

Figure 14A: Annual Percentage Change in State Appropriations for Higher Education per Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) Student and Percentage Change in Inflation-Adjusted Tuition and Fees at Public Four-Year Institutions, 1982-83 to 2012-13

The 0% line corresponds to changes in appropriations per FTE student that compensate only for the overall rate of inflation in consumer prices. Negative percentage changes indicate declines in inflation-adjusted appropriations per FTE student. The blue dotted line represents the percentage change that would have occurred if federal stimulus funds had not been appropriated in 2008‑09 through 2010‑11.

Notes & Sources 

NOTE: Enrollment figures are fall FTE enrollments for public two-year and four-year institutions. Enrollment for fall 2012 was estimated based on preliminary IPEDS numbers. Appropriations reported here are for institutional operating expenses, not for capital expenditures. Funding includes both tax revenues and other state funds allocated to higher education.

SOURCES: The College Board, Annual Survey of Colleges; Illinois State University, Grapevine reports; NCES, Digest of Education Statistics 2012, Table 253; NCES, IPEDS preliminary fall 2012 enrollment data; calculations by the authors.

  • The sharp declines in per student state appropriations in recent years have been accompanied by rapid increases in public four-year college tuition and fees. In 2012‑13, appropriations fell less than in the preceding four years, and tuition and fees rose less than in the preceding three years.
  • Similar combinations of declining per student appropriations and large price increases occurred in the early 1990s and the early 2000s.