States Investing the Most (and Least) in Higher Education

If a report by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association is anything to go by, then we’d be right to say that the U.S. has seen a considerable rise in the state spending when it comes to higher education. According to the report, in the 2017 fiscal year, the U.S. states dedicated an average of $7,642 for the education every full-time college student, which is a 2.5% increase compared to the previous year.

These figures are impressive, but when we narrow down to statistics of each state, you’ll realize that there’s a huge difference in the spending of the respective states. To give you an insight, here’s a list of states investing the most (and the least) in higher education.

Top Spenders (per-pupil basis)

To arrive at these figures, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association calculated the number of full-time students who were supported by the state, tabulating the local and entire state assistance.

1. Wyoming: In 2017, this state spent about 9.8% less per student compared to 2016. However, it still outpaced other states in its educational appropriations, accounting for $18, 237 on average per student.

2. Illinois: Since the 2008 recession, Illinois’ spending per student increased by almost 41%, coming in second after Wyoming to stand at $16,055 on average per student.

3. Alaska: While most states recorded a decrease in the number of full-time students, Alaska seemed to the hardest hit, recording a drop of 14.8% from 2012 – 2017. However, it was able to rank among the top states when it comes to higher education spending, accounting for $13, 612 on average per student.

4. Hawaii: According to the most recent statistics, enrollment of full-time students stands at around 37,000 in Hawaii, which is among the lowest figures in the U.S. The state, however, spends a considerable amount in higher education, with the average per student standing at $10, 810.

5. North Carolina: Boasting some of the highest numbers in students’ enrollment, North Carolina recorded almost 390,000 full-time students by 2017. Its spending per student is $9,959

6. Nebraska: Since 2012 – 2017, the spending per student in Nebraska increased a cool 20%, standing at$9,801.

7. Idaho: This state has maintained a good record when it comes to the average spending per student. The most recent figures suggest that it spends about $9,793 per student on average.

8. North Dakota: Since the recession of 2008, the spending per student in North Dakota increased by over a third, standing at $9,552.

9. New Mexico: From 2012 to 2017, the educational appropriation in New Mexico increased 9.5% per student to stand at $9,348.

10. New York: Before the 2008 Great Recession, this state was one of the highest spenders per full-time student. In 2017, it ranked 10th, spending $8,640 per student on average.

Lowest Spenders (per-pupil basis)

Whereas some states such as Wyoming, Illinois, Alaska, and Hawaii spent more than $10,000 on average, others such as Vermont, and New Hampshire spent less than $3,000 on an average per-pupil basis, according to the report. Here are the lowest spenders:

1. Vermont ($2,695)

2. New Hampshire ($2,701)

3. Pennsylvania ($4,122)

4. Colorado ($4,194)

5. West Virginia ($4,781)

6. Delaware ($4,880)

7. Arizona ($4,920)

8. Louisiana ($5,373)

9. Virginia ($5,533)

10. Rhode Island ($5,606)

These are some of the biggest and lowest spenders of higher education per full-time student basis, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. These statistics are for 2017, so the ranking may change a bit once a new report for 2018 is released.

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