Archive for Monday, August 3, 2009

State Budget Watch: Higher education funding has shifted over the years

August 3, 2009


Back after a week’s vacation in Tennessee. Legislative news there was pretty spicy — a state senator resigning after sex scandal.

Oh well, back to Kansas and our state’s budget problems.

There has been a fundamental change over the past generation in the way Kansas funds higher education.

In 1987, 45 percent of the operating budgets of the state’s public universities, which includes Kansas University, was funded by state tax dollars, according to information provided by the Kansas Board of Regents. Sixteen percent was funded by tuition.

By 2007, the state tax effort fell to 28 percent, while the tuition effort increased to 25 percent.

That’s why higher education officials have taken to calling the public universities “state-assisted” rather than “state-funded.”

Kansas Board of Regents President Reginald Robinson is quick to note that higher education budgets have continued to increase over those years, including the dollar amount forked over by state taxpayers — it’s just the percentage portion of state help that has declined.

But even in adjusting for inflation, the state support has decreased from $7,435 per university student in 1987 to $6,063 per student in 2007. That is an 18 percent downward slide.

So what we have is more reliance on tuition and less reliance on state tax support of higher education.


SettingTheRecordStraight 8 years, 10 months ago

First of all, higher education officials have it wrong. Public universities are neither "state-assisted" or "state-funded." They're taxpayer-funded.

Second, if $6,063 covers only 28% of the actual cost to send a student to a regent university, then is it correct that the annual, real-dollar cost to send one student to a regent university is $21,653??

Third, with taxpayer outlays so high, where's the outrage at declining graduation rates, low GPAs, and "party school" rankings?

It's long past time that students (especially from rich families) bear more of the actual cost of their public school education.

situveux1 8 years, 10 months ago

Commentary. And it should be described as such in the headline or elsewhere.

yourworstnightmare 8 years, 10 months ago

That the taxpayer assistance to Kansas universities has decreased as a percentage is a fact.

The difference has been made up by increased tuition (which is still too low) and external grants for research.

KU could get by with no state funding if tuition were increased and the endowment temporarily spent more funds.

KU should become a private university, no longer dependent on a state legislature that is like an abusive stepfather.

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