Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation published the paper Trends in State Funding and Tuition Revenue for Public Higher Education: 1980-2019.

“Conventional wisdom holds that higher education has been suffering from cuts to state funding, often described as state disinvestment, but the data show that states have increased state funding per student over time,” said Andrew Gillen, Ph.D., senior policy analyst for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “Over the past 4 decades, inflation-adjusted state funding has typically increased by $12 to $48 per student per year. During that time, tuition revenue has increased at a rate of between $126 to $143 per student per year. The combined effect of these trends has led to sustained increases in total educational revenue per student with 2019 total educational revenue reaching a six straight all-time high of over $15,000 per student.”

Key Points:

  • From 1980 to 2019, inflation-adjusted state funding has increased by $12 to $48 per student per year.
  • An upward trend in state funding exposes the myth of state disinvestment, but belief in this myth remains widespread due to over-generalizing from unrepresentative data and failure to correct for inflation.
  • From 1980 to 2019, inflation-adjusted tuition revenue increased by $126 to $143 per student per year.
  • Inflation-adjusted total educational/instructional revenue increased substantially over time, and 2019 set a new record high of over $15,000 per student.
  • Changes in state funding do not explain changes in tuition. State funding has increased over time, and the numbers do not match even when funding is cut. From 2008 to 2019, state funding fell by $259 per student, yet tuition increased by $2,233.

To read the paper in full, please visit: