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States where the price of public college has grown most

  • States Where the Price of Public College Has Grown Most

    Most students don’t pay the “sticker price” for college. The cost you see when you search for a college’s tuition can be misleading; many of the schools with the top tuitions in the country also have robust need- and merit-based financial aid programs, meaning many of their students pay somewhere below the maximum price.

    The rise in tuition at public colleges and universities often comes along with a slash in school funding. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) put it in a 2016 study, “Funding Down, Tuition Up.” States are quick to slash higher education budgets when searching for money, and the decrease in public investment has led to an increase in tuition for the average public school in every single U.S. state over the past decade.

    Many states have implemented generous assistance plans to help their students attend college at a lower cost, reducing the amount they have to spend or take out in student loans. Other states have implemented tuition hike freezes or caps, which seek to rein in the amount that colleges can charge their students. Few states have found success, though; from 2008 to 2018, the average annual published tuition has risen by $2,651 nationally, or 36%.

    Stacker used 2018 data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to rank states by the fastest growth in tuition in percent at public colleges from 2008 to 2018. Illinois was not included because tuition data through 2018 was not available. Read on to find out the policies each state uses to try to make college more affordable for students, and find out which four states saw funding increases for their public universities over the past decade.

    You may also like: 25 startling facts about the state of student debt in America

  • #49. Ohio

    - Change in tuition at public, four-year colleges 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): 5% ($500)
    - Percent change in state funding per pupil 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): -18.1%

    As stated in the intro, it’s important to recognize that zero states saw the price of college fall; Ohio, the lowest, still saw a 5% increase in the average tuition price of its public colleges. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who was elected in November 2018, recently added a provision to the state budget that would cap tuition increases at Ohio’s public schools at 2%, following up on a campaign promise to make college more affordable. A report prepared by Ohio’s Department of Higher Education attributes their low tuition increases to “...the chancellor’s biennial budget authority to restrain tuition and fees.”

  • #48. Missouri

    - Change in tuition at public, four-year colleges 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): 9.7% ($782)
    - Percent change in state funding per pupil 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): -31.3%

    In 2007, the year before the window for this story, Missouri’s state government passed the Higher Education Student Funding Act, which capped tuition increases for each of its public colleges and universities. The act has clearly done its job capping tuition costs, though per-student spending has declined and supplementary costs have skyrocketed. Plus, in May 2019, the state government approved the largest tuition hike since 2012.

  • #47. Montana

    - Change in tuition at public, four-year colleges 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): 10.2% ($638)
    - Percent change in state funding per pupil 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): -1.9%

    Montana’s current governor, Steve Bullock, is running for president and recently appeared in the second round of Democratic debates, but part of his plan for his own state is a 17% increase in the number of students earning college degrees or certificates by 2025. To achieve that goal, several Montana public schools regularly freeze their tuition to make attendance more affordable to students.

  • #46. Maryland

    - Change in tuition at public, four-year colleges 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): 10.7% ($928)
    - Percent change in state funding per pupil 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): -3.5%

    A four-year tuition freeze for Maryland’s public colleges began in 2007 under Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, but after the recession, tuition prices were allowed to rise normally. This year, in-state tuition increased at typical levels, though the tuition cost for out-of-state students rose an unusually high amount.

  • #45. Maine

    - Change in tuition at public, four-year colleges 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): 14.9% ($1,294)
    - Percent change in state funding per pupil 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): -2.4%

    From 2010–2016, under the governorship of Paul LePage, tuition increases were frozen at Maine’s public colleges. This led to Maine’s public schools being ranked the most affordable in the New England region in December 2018. Though the freeze is over, the University of Maine System officials plan to tie the rate of tuition increases to the rate of inflation going forward.

  • #44. Indiana

    - Change in tuition at public, four-year colleges 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): 15.2% ($1,232)
    - Percent change in state funding per pupil 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): -1.2%

    Unlike all of the states discussed so far, Indiana does not impose any tuition restrictions on its public schools; the state’s Commission for Higher Education merely recommends changes in annual reports. Despite that, several campuses, such as Purdue University, choose to freeze tuition increases on their own.

  • #43. New Jersey

    - Change in tuition at public, four-year colleges 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): 17.6% ($2,075)
    - Percent change in state funding per pupil 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): -23.5%

    Like Indiana, New Jersey has no laws governing tuition hikes at its public colleges; a bill was introduced in the state Senate in 2018 to cap tuition hikes to 4% annually, but it didn’t progress past the state's Legislature. It’s not clear how much this bill would affect tuition, given most New Jersey schools increased their tuitions just over 2% in 2018.

  • #42. Wisconsin

    - Change in tuition at public, four-year colleges 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): 18.2% ($1,380)
    - Percent change in state funding per pupil 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): -22.8%

    Wisconsin’s tuition freeze for undergraduate resident students is set to enter its seventh year. The program was started under Republican Gov. Scott Walker and continues under Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who was elected last November. Evers plans to keep the freeze for at least another two years. Recently, two Republican lawmakers introduced a bill to the state legislature to lock tuition raises to inflation, should the freeze ever end.

  • #41. Iowa

    - Change in tuition at public, four-year colleges 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): 19.1% ($1,407)
    - Percent change in state funding per pupil 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): -28.1%

    In 2017, Iowa’s Legislature convened a Tuition Task Force to address concerns from educators, students, and lawmakers about future tuition hikes. Their main concern, according to the task force, was the unpredictability of rate hikes; this year, the Board of Regents in Iowa approved a 3.9% tuition hike at public schools as part of a five-year plan, with at least 3% raises in tuition at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University each year.

  • #40. North Dakota

    - Change in tuition at public, four-year colleges 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): 19.5% ($1,336)
    - Percent change in state funding per pupil 2008–2018 (inflation adjusted): 16.1%

    North Dakota is the first state on this list, and one of only four overall, to actually increase the amount it spent on each pupil over the past decade. Currently, North Dakota caps tuition hikes at its public colleges to 3%, though they can go up to 4% in some circumstances.