In a statement, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association said states with the largest declines will likely see higher tuition rates and more pressure to recruit out-of-state students. That raises concerns about access to higher education, particularly for those students who need financial aid, another area where state support has declined.
Educating more students from out of state and less access will have “implications for the availability of an adequately trained workforce in those states,” the organization said.
The group specifically highlighted California, where a $1.5 billion spending reduction, including stimulus funds, over the past two years represents 26 percent of the national decline.
Florida is another state that has seen sustained spending cuts.
Over the past five years, state support for higher education has declined 17.5 percent, according to the study. As the state proportion of funding has declined, universities have relied more on tuition, now nearly 50 percent of their operating budget.
Overall state funding appropriations in Florida are about the same as they were 10 years ago, after having risen leading up to 2007-2008. Meanwhile, enrollment has increased by more than 24 percent.
To compensate for the loss, Florida universities have merged departments, instituted hiring freezes and used more adjunct professors, among other actions.
“Each university has been diligent in developing cost-saving strategies to help offset — but not fully replace — the budget shortfalls,” according to a brief from the Board of Governors, which oversees Florida’s State University System.
The National Science Board noted the funding decline could have implications for how well the United States is able to educate its workforce and be competitive in a globalized, knowledge-based economy.