State Government Higher Education Expenditures: 2017 Census of Governments Data

In FY 1977, U.S. state and local government institutions of higher education covered just 20.8% of their expenditures on education with tuition and fees.  That figure peaked at 39.2% in FY 2011, and was 35.0% in FY 2017.   On the other hand, fees and charges at auxiliary enterprises at public colleges and universities, including dormitories, food services, book stores, stadiums, camps and conferences, covered more than 100.0% of their costs more often then not up until FY 2004, interest on debts aside. Such enterprises still covered 92.1% of their costs in FY 2011, but covered just 77.0% of their costs in FY 2017.   And that was before the coronavirus ended the presence of students in on-campus housing, and admission revenues at sporting events.

That is just one of the findings from a tabulation of state and local government finances from the 2017 Census of Governments, along with similar data for prior years.  As noted in the prior post on elementary and secondary schools, local governments also operate community colleges in some states, including New York.  For the most part, however, higher education is a state government function.  While Medicaid, mostly paid to private sector health care providers, and elementary and secondary education, consisting of aid to local government schools, are a larger part of state budgets, public colleges and universities employ more actual state workers than any other government function.  A table, charts and a further discussion about public higher education follow.


This another post in a series based on an analysis of data from the finance phase of the 2017 Census of Governments.  The first post in this series, which described where the data comes from and how it was tabulated, is here.

Last fall, I wrote a post based on a prior compilation of data from the employment phase of the 2017 Census of Governments, and Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data on private colleges and universities.  I also cited blog posts and news reports on the subject.  I’m not going to repeat that information in this post, but I have obtained more information since then.  For a complete picture, readers who are new to this site might first want to read this.

Local government “Higher Education” expenditures as defined by the Census Bureau were briefly discussed in the prior post on local government Elementary and Secondary Schools, which may be found here.

The spreadsheet with the table and charts that will be used in this post is here.

Higher Education All State

This table is for state government Higher Education only.

State Higher Education All State Fy 2017

It shows that state government expenditures on public colleges and universities are highest, per $1,000 of state residents’ personal income, in states with small populations, relatively low average incomes, and in some cases prominent schools that attract students from other states.  Utah ranked first, followed by Delaware, New Mexico, North Dakota, Vermont, Alabama, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma.

The first chart includes states that are closer to, and those that are otherwise perhaps more comparable with, a large state such as New York, and shows spending on state and  local government Higher Education, and on state government higher education assistance and subsidies (scholarships), which could also be used at private colleges and universities.

The data shows that in FY 2017 for the U.S. as a whole, state and local government expenditures on Higher Education, including tuition assistance and subsidies, totaled $19.80 per $1,000 of personal income.  The expenditures of public colleges and universities alone totaled $17.62 per $1,000 of income.  The latter figure compares with just $11.03 in New York State, $12.92 in New Jersey, $13.17 in Connecticut, $11.83 in Massachusetts, $17.20 in Pennsylvania, $11.93 in New Hampshire, $12.58 in Maine and $12.51 in Rhode Island.  In the Northeast, only Vermont is above the U.S. average in public higher education expenditures per $1,000 of personal income, at $27.51.

Most state colleges and universities were established as part of the federal “land grant” program.

In the early 1800s, advocates of agricultural education were lobbying the government to create colleges and universities specifically for agriculture and mechanical learning. Their dream was realized in 1862 when the Morrill Act granted eligible states 30,000 acres of land to establish institutes of learning that would focus on practical agriculture, science, military science, and engineering. In 1890, the Act was further expanded by a land-grant program geared toward confederate states, requiring them to either discount race as an admissions criterion or designate a separate land-grant program for students of color.

In the Northeast, private colleges and universities, mostly founded by religious organizations, were already well established before the land grant system of state-run higher education got started.  For example Cornell and Rutgers, existing private universities, would become the land-grant colleges of New York and New Jersey, despite Cornell remaining private.  In New York State, the City University of New York wasn’t founded until 1961, although City College dates back to 1847.  The State University of New York was not founded until 1948.

With land-grant colleges the most prominent institutions of higher education in many other parts of the country, there is more spending on public higher education there.  Compared with the FY 2017 U.S. average of $17.62, state and local government expenditures on Higher Education equaled $25.70 per $1,000 of state residents’ personal income in Michigan, the most among large states, $23.81 in Oregon, $22.54 in Texas, $20.51 in North Carolina, $20.58 in Colorado, $21.91 in Wisconsin, and $21.34 in Indiana.  California was about average at $17.50, but with the distinction of having an unusually large share of those expenditures at the local government level.

States outside the Northeast with relatively low spending on public higher education include Illinois at $13.39 per $1,000 of state residents’ personal income in FY 2017, Georgia at $12.97, and Florida at $11.03.

While direct spending on actual public institutions of higher education was relatively low in the Northeast, that doesn’t mean that state government spending on tuition assistance, subsidies and scholarships, which could also be used for private universities and colleges, was all that high.  In FY 2017 the U.S. average was $2.18 per $1,000 of personal income.  That compares with $1.53 spent per $1,000 of state residents’ personal income in New York State, $1.62 in New Jersey, $1.24 in Connecticut, $1.03 in Massachusetts, $1.77 in Pennsylvania, $1.84 in New Hampshire, and $19.97 in Maine.  Vermont ($4.25) and Rhode Island ($2.62) were above average.  California, at $2.24, was about average.

Consistent with the lower level of state and local government Higher Education expenditures in the Northeast, the share of students who attend public colleges is relatively low in the region.  In 2017, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 73.7% of U.S. higher education students attended public colleges and universities.  This compared with just 55.3% of those attending college in New York State, 58.8% of those doing so in Connecticut, 42.4% in Massachusetts, 55.9% in Pennsylvania, 57.7% in Vermont, 26.7% in New Hampshire, 65.4% in Maine, and 49.6% in Rhode Island.

That year 79.8% of those attending colleges and universities in New Jersey were attending public institutions.  Relatively few students, however, attend colleges and universities in New Jersey.  Instead, a large share of college students from New Jersey attends schools in other Northeastern states, many of which are private.

States where a higher than average share of students attend public colleges and universities include many of those with above average spending. These include Michigan at 85.8%, Oregon at 83.6%, Texas at 88.8%, North Carolina at $80.6%, Colorado at 77.4%, and Wisconsin at 82.0%.  Although California was about average in state and local government Higher Education expenditures per $1,000 of state residents’ personal income, the 82.8% of the state’s students that attended public colleges and universities was above average.  Georgia and Florida, with 79.6% and 74.5% respectively, were above average in the share of their students attending public colleges and universities, despite being below average in spending.

Leaving aside assistance and subsidies, the Census Bureau divides state and local government Higher Education expenditures into two categories, Auxiliary Enterprises and “Other.”  Actual education is part of “Other.”  States where a higher percentage of students reside on campus would be expected to have more spending on Auxiliary Enterprises than states where more students commute to school.   Community colleges, operated by local governments in some states, fall into the commuter school category.

For state government run colleges and universities alone, in FY 2017 the U.S. average was $13.02 spent per $1,000 of personal income on education (“Other”), and $2.04 spent per $1,000 of personal income on Auxiliary Enterprises.  That is, the Auxiliary Enterprises accounted for 13.5% of total state government Higher Education expenditures in the United States.  That share was just 10.1% for New York State, likely due to the large number of students who commute to CUNY in New York City, 11.8% in New Jersey, 12.3% in Connecticut, 12.1% in Massachusetts, and 10.9% in Pennsylvania.  Along with just 7.2% in Texas and 9.5% in California.

States were Auxiliary enterprises are a high share of total expenditures at state colleges and universities included North Carolina (28.9%), Virginia (21.5%), Oklahoma (19.8%), and Oregon (18.6%).  Along with New Hampshire (27.0%), Vermont (18.2%) and Rhode Island (17.9%).  One might surmise that state colleges and universities in these states attract a large number of out-of-state and foreign students who reside on campus. And/or that they have expensive sports programs.

Comparing three Census of Governments years for the U.S. as a whole, state government college and university expenditures increased from $12.26 per $1,000 of personal income in FY 1997 to $14.16 in FY 2007 and on to $15.05 in FY 2017.  Expenditures were higher than a decade earlier in most states over both decades. From FY 2007 to FY 2017, however, state government Higher Education expenditures fell from $9.23 per $1,000 of state residents’ personal income to $8.31 in New York, a 10.8% decrease, from $10.30 to $9.43 in Illinois, an 8.4% decrease, and from $18.06 to $18.13 in North Carolina, an 0.4% decrease.

Illinois has had a severe fiscal crisis for years due to past pension underfunding and retroactive pension increases.  North Carolina faced a fiscal crisis for the first time in decades as a result of the Great Recession, which hit that state particularly hard. The New York State decrease is in part a consequence of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s attempt to limit the growth of total expenditures in high-tax New York, in the face of control of the state legislature by the politically powerful teachers’ union.  Spending on, and state aid for, New York’s elementary and secondary schools have continued to rise even as the Millennials exited school and enrollment fell.  This was funded in part by a squeeze on state-run services, including public higher education.

For the U.S. as a whole, state and local government Higher Education expenditures combined jumped per $1,000 of personal income during two recessions, in the early 2000s after the bubble burst, and in the late 2000s during the financial crisis and Great Recession.  In each case personal income fell, while young adults who couldn’t get jobs stayed in school using borrowed money, increasing enrollment and expenditures. From $15.57 per $1,000 of personal income in FY 2000, state and local government Higher Education expenditures (not including assistance and subsidies) jumped to a high of $17.32 in FY 2003.  And from $17.06 per $1,000 of personal income in FY 2007, such expenditures jumped to $19.47 in FY 2009, before falling back to $17.45 in FY 2015 and $17.62 in FY 2017.

Both total U.S. college and university enrollment, and public college and university enrollment, were higher in 2007 than in 1997, and higher in 2017 than in 2007.  The peak, however, was in 2011, and between that year and 2017 public college and university enrollment fell 4.3%, and private college and university enrollment fell 16.5%.

The latter decrease reflects a shakeout among recently-established for-profit colleges and universities, one that left many past students with extensive loans and worthless degrees.    While largely ending in failure, the for-profit college boom had been the only attempt to bypass the monopoly power of existing institutions of higher education since the rapid expansion of public colleges and universities in the wake of World War II.

Total U.S. state and local government Higher Education Expenditures, per $1,000 of personal income, peaked about the same time as enrollment, from FY 2009 to FY 2011, and then fell 9.5% from FY 2009 to FY 2017.  For New York State that decrease was 24.5%, from $14.61 in FY 2009 to $11.03 in FY 2017 – also lower than the prior low of $11.53 in FY 2006.  In fact, New York’s FY 2017 state and local government Higher Education Expenditures were the lowest per $1,000 of personal income since the 1980s.

In contrast state and local government expenditures have been rising most years in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Public education is expanding in these states.  In FY 1980, state and local government Higher Education expenditures equaled just $7.05 per $1,000 of state residents’ personal income in Pennsylvania, a state where the “University of” is a private university founded by Benjamin Franklin.  That was less than half the U.S. average of $14.71 per $1,000 of personal income.  In FY 2017, on the other hand, Pennsylvania spent $17.20 per $1,000 of personal income on this function, nearly matching the U.S. average of $17.62.  (The big bump in Pennsylvania spending in FY 1991 was the construction of a new football stadium).

Public higher education is also being squeezed in California, with a 12.3% decrease in expenditures per $1,000 of personal income from FY 2009 to FY 2017, and Virginia with an 11.5% decrease. North Carolina and Michigan took smaller than average hits.  But in all public higher education systems, as elsewhere in state and local government, rising public pension costs may be crowding out actual services.   In some cases, limited course availability has been forcing students to stay in school longer to complete their majors, a huge financial hit.


The biggest issue in public higher education over the past decade, however, has not been falling quality.  It has been rising student loan debt, purportedly caused by rising public university tuition.  Rising public college and university tuition, in turn, has purportedly been caused by reduced taxpayer subsides for public higher education.  And not, as in private colleges and universities, by rising costs per student.

But if taxpayer subsidies are falling relative to the cost of public higher education, then it follows that charges for services – tuition and other fees — must equal a high and rising percentage of total public higher education expenditures.    The next several charts will track this, by state and over time.

For the “education” portion of state government Higher Education, tuition and fees equaled 38.0% of total expenditures in FY 2017 nationwide, but just 24.5% in New York State.  Higher education is an extreme outlier among public services in New York, the one case where state politicians have tried – for decades – to keep costs in line and tuition affordable.  In virtually every state in the United States, the highest paid state employees are football and basketball coaches.  Not so in New York State.  And for virtually every other public service in New York State, most of the state’s elected officials advocate for higher costs and reduced expectations on behalf of public unions and contractor organizations.

Among other states where tuition and fees cover a low share of state government “Other” Higher Education expenditures are “Blue States” Connecticut at 34.6%, California at 33.5% and Minnesota at 26.6%, and “Red State” Texas at 27.5%.  As in the case for Elementary and Secondary School education, if one adjusts for personal income and the ability to pay, Texas has a greater commitment to education than one might have expected based on what one sees and hears in the media. If only to the sports programs.

One would expect states that attract many out of state students to cover a higher share of their “Other” Higher Education expenditures with tuition and fees.  That may be the explanation for the fact that in FY 2017 such charges for services covered fully 68.3% of state government “Other” Higher Education expenditures in Vermont, 57.8% in New Hampshire, and 55.8% in Rhode Island.  The share of education expenditures covered by tuition and fees was also above average in Massachusetts (44.4%) and Pennsylvania (45.8%).  On the other hand, tuition and fees were a below-average share of total expenditures in North Carolina (31.7%).

In FY 2017, fees and charges equaled 77.6% of total Higher Education Auxiliary Enterprises expenditures at U.S. state government colleges and universities.  That compares with just 64.9% for New York State.  Other states where Auxiliary Enterprises were highly subsidized in FY 2017 were Washington at just 65.4% of expenditures covered by charges, Oklahoma at 66.6%, Colorado at 69.5%, and Vermont at 43.2%.

Anecdotal evidence implies that in some states public colleges and universities have been blindsided by falling enrollment after getting caught up in the amenities arms race, particularly in regard to sports programs and on-campus housing.  In Oklahoma, OSU has a new football stadium, paid for in part by a donation from a prominent alumni.  OU embarked on a $370 million upgrade to its football stadium in 2014.

OU also encouraged the construction of a private “luxury” dormitory, one that most OU students are too poor to afford.  The developer is suing the state to try to recoup its losses.

Planned as a luxury option for students who might otherwise live off campus, Cross Village has been plagued by low occupancy rates since opening last year. In July, the university declined to renew the parking and commercial-space leases at the Norman, Okla., dormitories after a year, saying they weren’t providing enough value to justify the cost.

This is a state, remember, where Elementary and Secondary Education expenditures have been slashed sharply, per $1,000 of personal income, to pay for tax cuts.

Privately owned and operated dormitories are a relatively new phenomenon, and a student housing bubble generated by low interest rates and rising student loan debt is deflating.  Traditionally, however, state colleges and universities have operated facilities for on-campus resident students themselves, and falling enrollment may cause financial difficulties. Consider Vermont.

The Changing Face of UVM: Students and faculty take a stand against budget cuts

Faculty and student outcry has followed cuts in certain College of Arts and Sciences’ programs due to declining enrollment…These changes are part of  “right-sizing” efforts to resolve a $1.3 million 2018-19 school year deficit caused by shrinking student enrollment, CAS Dean Bill Falls said… The declining enrollment reflects a demographic shift in the Northeast. There are increasingly fewer college-bound students, which is causing more competition between institutions, Falls said…

At a Feb. 5 UA meeting, assistant French professor Charles-Louis Morand Metivier criticized the University’s priorities, citing the $95 million Multipurpose center project being worked on while lecturers are being cut.  Money raised in the Move Mountains fundraising campaign have gone toward scholarships and professorships in CAS, but a significant number of donors are excited about the Multipurpose center, said Shane Jacobson, president and CEO of the UVM Foundation.  Donated money must go to the area designated by the donor, Jacobson said.

That was before the coronavirus…

Already rocky college finances hit hard by coronavirus

Higher education institutions in Vermont were already facing an enrollment crunch that saw four colleges announce closures or mergers last year. The pandemic has since required schools return millions of dollars in room and board fees to students, incur new costs to pivot to online learning, and made it nearly impossible for schools to predict what the fall might bring in terms of enrollment.

The challenges aren’t new,” Jeb Spaulding, chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges, told trustees on Saturday. “But the intensity of the challenges are immense.”  Moody’s Investors Service in March downgraded its outlook for the entire U.S. higher education sector from stable to negative.

My post last fall on higher education employment and payroll included similar articles about New York.  Public community college enrollment has been falling here, especially in Upstate New York, where the economy has become highly dependent on private colleges and universities (and health care) as a source of jobs and income, as manufacturing has declined.


Taking Auxiliary Enterprises and “Other” higher education together, and state and local government Higher Education together, tuition and fees equaled 43.3% of state government Higher Education expenditures in FY 2017, but just 28.6% in New York State, the fourth lowest share among the states.  The only states were the share was lower were those outliers Wyoming (18.9%), Alaska (23.1%) and New Mexico (25.4%). Texas, at 31.2%, was right behind New York State.  On the other end one finds, in order, New Hampshire (65.7%), Vermont (63.7%), and Rhode Island at 61.9%.

Some states have premier state colleges and universities that attract students from all over the country, and all over the world, just as the best private colleges and universities do.  During the Great Recession, in some cases, taxpayer funding was reduced for these prestigious institutions, forcing them to rely more on donations and tuition, like private colleges and universities.  Examples include the University of California at Berkley, the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina, Penn State University, the University of Virginia, and William and Mary.  These cases attracted attention.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean that these states have defunded state universities in general.  Overall, tuition and fees covered just 50.5% of state government Higher Education expenditures Pennsylvania, 49.4% in Michigan, 43.1% in North Carolina, and 37.1% in California.

And for many, community colleges are an even better deal.  But for actual education, the deal is less good than it once was.


As noted at the start of this post, nationwide tuition and fees equaled just 20.8% of state and local government “Other” Higher Education expenditures in FY 1977.  (For state colleges and universities alone, that was just 17.2% in 1972, when the Baby Boomers were still in college hiding out from Vietnam).

Tough luck snowflake, that increased to having charges cover more than one-third of state and local government Higher Education expenditures in FY 1994, and it has been a third or more ever since – with a peak of 39.2% of expenditures in FY 2011, and 35.0% of expenditures in FY 2017, after rising college tuition and student loan debt became a political issue and state budgets recovered to an extent.

While the Baby Boomers got a much better deal than the Millennials, however, the Millennials didn’t get a much worse deal than the generation in between, that brief peak aside.  Whereas “free” college was common in the 1960s, eventually this was thought to be unfair to working class people, since college graduates earned so much more.  Loans took the place of grants, and the share of higher education expenditures covered by tuition, fees and charges increased.  It was about as high in the early 1990s as it was today.

Other factors, therefore, must explain the post-2008 explosion of student loan debt.  Two factors that are never mentioned, but I believe are partially responsible, are:

  • A much lower share of college tuition has been paid for by student earnings. Due to rising tuition, a falling inflation-adjusted minimum wage, and decreased employment among teenagers, because jobs once typically held by teens are now held by low-wage adults.
  • A much lower share of college tuition has been paid for by parents, using money they had saved. Millennial children were far less likely to be provided with a stable family in childhood by their Baby Boomer parents, than the Boomers themselves had been provided with by their own parents a generation before.  And Baby Boomers were far more likely to “live for today,” leaving less money available for big expenses such as college.  In fact, later-born generations were encouraged to borrow against their homes for shorter-term consumption, and many have done so, and continue to do so.

Millennials ended up with lower parent contributions to their education, due to divorce and other debt.  In fact, some of the student loans that Millenials have been unable to pay were taken out or guaranteed by their parents, who didn’t have savings to contribute to their children’s education.

Moreover, student loans have become unaffordable not only because the loans are large, but also because college graduates are earning much less than in the past, making the loans more difficult to repay.  The average Millennial is being paid 25 percent less than the average Baby Boomer had been at the same age, despite higher average educational attainment.  That was before the coronavirus.

As for the other possible factor, excessive costs and spending in public higher education, total state and local government higher education expenditures did seem to track enrollment over the years.  But it appears that many public colleges and universities did end up with “stranded costs” for Auxiliary Enterprises when enrollment leveled off and started to fall, and in some cases actual education may be squeezed to pay these costs.

As noted, nationwide charges for services equaled just 77.0% of state and local government Auxiliary Enterprise expenditures in FY 2017.  Such charges had traditionally covered around 100.0% of expenditures, failing below 95.0% for the first time in 2009. This was a crisis that the coronavirus might turn into a disaster if students aren’t allowed to return to, or can’t afford to pay for, dormitories and food services next fall.  And if television and ticket revenues can’t offset money borrowed to build and renovate new stadiums.

For state and local government Higher Education expenditures in total, both Auxiliary Expenditures and “Other,” those in New York State have always funded less of their costs through tuition and fees than the national average.  And while there have been some ups and downs, they are covering a lower share of total expenditures with tuition and fees than in the recent past.  Probably because there are fewer students paying, compared with the pre-existing cost structure.

Tuition & fees covered just 16.6% of New York State public higher education expenditures in 1972, when some members of the Woodstock Generation were still in school, but this increased to 27.5% in FY 1977.  After rising to over 30.0% from FY 1996 to FY 2011, it was at 27.2% in FY 2017.

While New York’s tuition and fees have always been below average, Pennsylvania’s have always been above average.  The 49.5% of expenditures covered by tuition in fees in FY 2017 is not that much different than most years since 1983, aside from the peak years of 55.0% and more from FY 2007 to FY 2016.

In some Northeastern states the data implies that tuition and charges might have been increased after 2008 to cover a higher share of total expenditures, but are now covering a lower share of expenditures nonetheless — due to declining enrollment.  Though many states did seem to reduce tuition and fees as a share of expenditures in FY 2012.  That year was once the worst had passed for state fiscal crisis, and after rising tuition had become a political issue.

Texas and California have covered a lower than average share of their public higher education expenditures with tuition and fees since the 1980s, and higher charges during the 1990s in California and into the mid-2000s in Texas have since been reversed.  On the other hand, Colorado, Virginia and Michigan have always covered an above average share of public college & university expenditures with tuition and fees.  Colorado and Michigan peaked during the great recession, while in Virginia tuition and fees are still going up as a share of total expenditures.



The data show that while the Great Recession briefly saw higher tuition and fees as a share of public higher education expenditures than ever before, the era of substantially more affordable higher education was long ago.   Back when Generation Greed, born from 1930 for 1957 or so, was at the right age to benefit.

I’ve identified my generation, the late Boomers and Generation X, as Generation Apathy.  We were apathetic because while the non-college graduates of our generation have been much worse off than previous generations of working class Americans throughout their lives, we did OK – at least up until now.  Obviously college graduates are more articulate in pressing their claims and asserting their needs than non-graduates, especially given that most people in the media are, in fact, college graduates.  So my peers were largely ignorant of, and apathetic toward, falling living standards in rural and industrial America.

Then the Millennial generation came along, and even those who had graduated from college, even many of those with graduate degrees, ended up worse off (on average) than prior generations had been.  That is why student loan debt and rising college tuition are more of an issue now than they were before.  College educated Millennials have it rough and are aware of this, and yet their less educated peers have continued to become even worse off still.

Of the $60.0 billion U.S. state and local governments spent on cash and similar assistance and subsidies in FY 2017 (codes J19, J67, J68, and J85 in the Census of Governments), State Government Scholarships and Other Education Subsidies accounted for $36.8 billion, or 61.1% of the total. Cash assistance for the poorest, also known as “welfare,” the subject of massive backlash during the political ascendance of the Baby Boomers?  It totaled just $23.3 billion – far less than was spent on assistance to college students.

And just $6.6 billion of that was paid for with any federal funding, while another $16.7 billion in cash welfare was paid for by state and local governments alone.    Recall that the welfare reform act of 1996 put a five-year time limit on the receipt of cash welfare under federal programs.  As the Baby Boomers – who were also more likely to collect welfare than other generations – have aged out, it would appear that the poorest among them have ended up the states’ dime.

Funny, now that the rich their asset prices, and large corporations in a variety of sectors from Wall Street to autos to airlines, have been bailed out over and over again, and welfare for the poorest has been all but eliminated, no one wants to talk about the latter anymore.  Not for the past two decades.  But I will talk about that history, and chart the data, in a subsequent post.


The next post in this series, however, will be on state and local government health care expenditures.

5 thoughts on “State Government Higher Education Expenditures: 2017 Census of Governments Data

  1. Stevie

    Not sure where those stats came from or reliability. Suspect local spending not included, so selective cherrypicking? But California news media stated some years ago that California was spending more on prisons than higher ed.

    1. Stevie

      Actually, I was questioning the stats in my comment, not yours: “The latest stats I see show US states spend about four times on prisons than education at all levels, California worst at eight times.” I should have made that clearer.

  2. Stevie

    The latest stats I see show US states spend about four times on prisons than education at all levels, California worst at eight times. Partly due to a tripled incarceration rate last thirty years, like for the counterproductive war on drugs, or draconian sentencing around 3-4 times other developed countries despite similar crime rates. That so much is spent on corrections instead of child development ranging from pre-natal care to college education just seems so backward.

    Other bloggers have noted that despite falling enrollment since 2011, student loans continue to rise. Which are some of the most predatory debt, guaranteeing huge profits to private lenders at essentially zero risk, yet sport usurious interest rates. I often wonder why more parents don’t intervene to prevent naive children from taking on unsupportable debt burdens. Likewise the neurotic obsession with getting into so-called top schools, especially at the undergraduate level. Or the disdain for community colleges, even though many of them are quite good. I suspect excessive focus on rigor contributes to the high dropout rate, when stepping down a notch or two could permit a much more enjoyable and productive college experience.

    I think increasing doubt about the value of college degrees will further diminish enrollment, on top of financial disruptions suppressing demand. Some call for alternative education models that avoid the current system entirely, which is viewed as too insular and self-serving to be reformed. Companies may actually be forced to start developing their employees instead of relying on credentialism and poaching.

    And my most outrageous blasphemy: that twice as many kids are going to college as needed to meet real world needs. As evidenced not just by college barista anecdotes, but studies by skeptical academics, professional and labor organizations, even the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the last of which admits that companies require degrees twice as often as justified by the knowledge and skills required. This includes the much overhyped STEM field. IEEE research reveals that just 50% of STEM graduates go into STEM employment, whether due to lack of jobs, or better pay and working conditions elsewhere. And after 10 years, half of those have left STEM. A stunning attrition rate for a supposedly sure thing. All the bleating about skills shortages and ever more education is just misdirection and blame the victim rhetoric to avoid addressing the enormous structural problems plaguing a global economy that generates too many poor quality jobs. We don’t need better workers, we need better jobs!

    1. larrylittlefield Post author

      “The latest stats I see show US states spend about four times on prisons than education at all levels, California worst at eight times.”

      Well, for what it’s worth, that isn’t what they report to the Census Bureau.

      In California in FY 2017, at the state level $8.4 billion on corrections (state prisons), and $29.6 billion on higher education, net of $10.95 billion in tuition and other charges. At the local level, $6.2 billion on corrections, and $11.9 billion on higher education, net of $1.25 billion in tuition and other charges. California is distinguished by a high level of higher education assigned to local government — I assume those are community colleges.

      An $83.4 billion on elementary and secondary education. As noted in my prior post, measured per $1,000 of state residents’ personal income, California’s elementary and secondary education expenditures are lower than the U.S. average (have been since the early 1980s) and lower than Texas.

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