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State, Local Funding for Higher Ed Rose in 2008

A national report shows state funding for higher education was increasing just before the recession hit.  WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.A national group called the State Higher Education Executive Officers released its annual study [pdf], which finds that during the 2008 fiscal year state and local funding for higher education per student had risen nearly 6 percent over 2007.Senior policy analyst Jeff Stanley says the findings are for the period before the current economic recession and that findings for 2009 will be very different. Still, Stanley says that past findings on public funding makes him optimistic."As the economies recover, states come back to their obligation to public higher education — maybe not at the level of previous years," he says, "but you do see that comeback towards a more appropriated level of funding the enrollments that are happening within the system."Senior policy analyst Jeff Stanley says the findings on a state-by-state basis often varied greatly. For examples, Kentucky saw an increase in funding of just over 1 percent per student while appropriations for the same in Indiana fell by just under 1 percent.Stanley says the difference is due to several factors."It appears, at least from the numbers that we have, that what was happening in Indiana, is that they were experiencing rapid enrollment growth," he says. "And so their state appropriations and their net tuition weren’t able to keep pace with that enrollment growth."Stanley says education administrators and policy makers will use the date for more than seeing just where their states stand. Many he says are looking at making higher education more affordable using existing resource levels."This becomes a starting point for those types of discussions, because you can begin to look at what other states are doing and how do we compare on these measures to other states," he says.