State Support for Higher Education Has Fallen

Adjusted for inflation, state support for each full-time public-college student declined by 26.1 percent from 1990 to 2010, forcing students and their families to shoulder more of the cost of higher education at a time when family incomes were largely stagnant, according to a report released on Monday by the think tank Demos.

The report, “The Great Cost Shift: How Higher Education Cuts Undermine the Future Middle Class,” says that over the same 20-year period, the published tuition-and-fee price of a four-year public-college education increased 116 percent. The report recommends that states reform their tax systems to make more money available for higher education, that they direct money to need-based aid rather than merit aid, and that they make college completion a goal of their spending.