Total and Per-Student State and Local Funding and Public Enrollment over Time

Between 2006-07 and 2011-12, the combination of an 11% decline in total funding and a 16% increase in enrolment led to a 24% decline in state and local funding per public college student.

Figure 15B: Total and Per-Student State and Local Funding for Higher Education in 2016 Dollars and Public FTE Enrollment, 1986-87 to 2016-17

Notes & Sources 

NOTES: Enrollment figures are fall FTE enrollments for public two-year and four-year institutions excluding medical students. Funding is for both two-year and four-year institutions and includes tax revenues and other state and local funds for higher education, but not funding for capital expenditures.

SOURCES: College Board, Annual Survey of Colleges; NCES, Digest of Education Statistics 2017, Table 307.10; State Higher Education Executive Offices Association (SHEEO), State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) reports; calculations by the authors.

  • Between 2011-12 and 2016-17, the combination of a 15% increase in total funding and a 5% decline in enrollment led to a 21% increase in funding per student.
  • In 2016-17, total appropriations were 2% higher (after adjusting for inflation) than a decade earlier ($84.1 billion vs. $82.2 billion), but appropriations per student were 8% lower ($7,640 vs. $8,270). Total appropriations were 38% higher than 30 years earlier (up from $60.8 billion), but appropriations per student were 11% lower (down from $8,540).