For a telling example of the money troubles facing public colleges and universities, consider Pennsylvania. On June 30, Governor Tom Corbett signed a state budget that slashes funding for higher education by 19 percent, and school officials smiled with relief.
For universities, it could have been much worse. In March, Corbett introduced a budget proposal that called for a 50-percent cut to higher education. But improving state revenues and a public backlash against the proposal led lawmakers to pare back the governor’s plan. In the end, Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities walked away with a painful but manageable cut that will result in tuition increases of 7.5 percent this fall.
Students elsewhere will not be so fortunate. Double-digit tuition increases await public university students in Louisiana, Tennessee and Nevada, all as a result of reduced state funds. In New Hampshire, lawmakers followed through on what Pennsylvania only talked about doing: cutting higher education funding in half. A 48-percent funding reduction has the University System of New Hampshire warning that it will face its most challenging academic year ever, and students and parents will feel the pain in the form of tuition hikes of up to 9.7 percent.