March 11, 2011

Jefferson City -  A new report places Missouri 49th in the nation in the change in total higher education spending per student over the past five years. The State Higher Education Finance Report, issued by the State Higher Education Executive Officers, describes how the recession has affected state systems of higher education.

Public colleges and universities across the country are coping with higher enrollments and shrinking state support. But 48 other states have balanced their higher education budgets by passing costs along to students. The average national increase in spending per student was 3.4 percent over the past five years. In Missouri, spending per student decreased by 12 percent.

Missouri's enrollment increase was 17th highest in the nation from 2005 to 2010, growing by 17.7 percent. (In the fall 2010 semester, 256,527 students were enrolled in public colleges and universities in Missouri.) Appropriations for higher education per student in Missouri declined 10 percent over the same time period.

Commissioner of Higher Education David Russell says the report reflects economic reality. "The desire to adequately fund higher education exists, but the means to do it is lacking," Russell says. "Institutions are educating more students with fewer resources and that is likely to continue to be the case until new sources of revenue are identified or the economy recovers."

The report also tracks the national historical trend to shift more of the cost of higher education to students. In 1985, colleges received about 23 percent of their revenue from tuition; in 2010, the percentage rose to 40 percent. In Missouri, revenue from tuition rose from 32 percent of institutions' budgets in 2001 to 46 percent in 2009.