NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Slumping Economy Equals Lower State Revenues, High College Tuitions

July 19, 2001

As college students enter or return to classes this fall, they could find double-digit increases in their tuition costs. Many state colleges and universities are requiring students to shoulder more of the financial burden of educating them, academic observers say.

That's because the soft economy has left many states with revenue shortfalls that they must address by cutting state spending or increasing revenues.

  • Tuition increases at four-year public colleges hovered at around 4 percent on average in the second half of the 1990s -- and averaged 4.6 percent in the 2000-01 school term.
  • But this year, for example, in-state undergraduates in Tennessee will see tuition rise 15 percent.
  • Ohio state's in-state undergraduate tuition rises 9.3 percent -- to $4,761, its largest jump since 1987-88.
  • The biggest tuition increases to be announced, experts say, are in the Midwest and the South.

When states haven't built up a surplus, cuts to higher education often come before cutting debt reduction, health care and elementary and secondary education, says Stanley Ikenberry, president of the American Council on Education.

Source: Tracey Wong Briggs, "College Tuition Swells," USA Today, July 19, 2001.

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