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

Changes in per-student appropriations are the result of the interaction of changes in total funding levels and enrollment patterns. A 16% (inflation-adjusted) decline in total state and local funding and a 13% increase in enrollment contributed to the sharp per-student funding decline between 2007-08 and 2011-12. Between 2011-12 and 2014-15, an 8% increase in appropriations combined with a 4% decline in enrollment generated a 13% increase in per-student funding.

Figure 14B: Total and Per-Student State and Local Funding for Higher Education in 2014 Dollars, and Public FTE Enrollment, 1984-85 to 2014-15

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 excludes funding for capital expenditures. Funding data are from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO). Data on state appropriations in previous years’ Trends in College Pricing were based on the Grapevine data from Illinois State University. For differences between data from these two sources, please see Notes and Sources.

Sources: NCES, Digest of Education Statistics 2016, Table 307.10; SHEEO, State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) reports; calculations by the authors.

  • Despite this partial recovery, in 2014-15, appropriations per FTE student were 8% lower in inflation-adjusted dollars than they were a decade earlier, and 11% lower than they were 30 years earlier.