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Report: MT Higher Ed Budget Cuts Examined

PHOTO: Montana has cut higher education funding per student by 17 percent since 2008, according to a new report. Photo credit: Microsoft Images
PHOTO: Montana has cut higher education funding per student by 17 percent since 2008, according to a new report. Photo credit: Microsoft Images
March 20, 2013

HELENA, Mont. - State budget cuts to higher education in Montana are noted in a new report.

The study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities outlines the tough time states have had in funding colleges and universities since the recession.

Montana's spending per student is down about 17 percent since 2008, according to the report. Even though the state's cuts are less than those in many other states, said report author Phil Oliff, it's still a big reason why tuition and fees have been outpacing inflation.

"Keep in mind," he said, "this spike in college costs comes even as the recession and slow recovery have diminished students' and their families' financial resources."

Every state has cut higher-education funding except Wyoming and North Dakota, according to the report. Arizona and New Hampshire leveled the biggest cuts.

Restoring the money lost to those cuts is likely to take years, Oliff said, and the report predicts slow economic recoveries for states that don't make higher education a higher priority.

"The bottom line," he said, "is that if states want to attract employers and develop a strong middle class, they will need a highly educated workforce."

The report takes states and the federal government to task for not taking actions to buffer the effects on education quality and affordability. Numbers were adjusted for inflation.

The full report, "Recent Deep State Higher Education Cuts May Harm Students and the Economy for Years to Come," is online at cbpp.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT