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Report: Arizona Leads Nation in Higher-Ed Funding Cuts

A new report says that since 2008, Arizona leads the nation in both state funding cuts and tuition increases for higher education. (Pixabay)
A new report says that since 2008, Arizona leads the nation in both state funding cuts and tuition increases for higher education. (Pixabay)
May 20, 2016

TUCSON, Ariz. - Arizona continues to lead the nation - by a wide margin - in funding cuts for higher education, according to a new report.

The report, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said deep cuts in funding by the Arizona Legislature have prompted tuition increases at state schools, meaning many students will graduate with higher debt levels. Report author Michael Mitchell, senior policy analyst for the center, said Arizona continues to cut college funding even as the American economy is recovering.

"Arizona leads the pack when we're talking about cuts since 2008 -- in terms of the magnitude, a 55 percent cut to funding on a per-student basis," he said. "But even if you look over the past year, Arizona is also one of the few states that's continuing to cut higher education."

Nationally, Mitchell said, states are spending about 17 percent less on higher education than they did in 2008, but Arizona has cut three times that amount. In addition, while tuition at four-year public colleges has risen 33 percent since the recession, tuition in Arizona is up 90 percent over the same period.

Compared with a somewhat brighter national picture for college funding, Mitchell said, Arizona seems to be stuck in reverse.

"It's important to note that the majority of states right now are actually in a trend of reinvestment," he said, "So at a time when most states are rebuilding our higher education systems, Arizona is digging its hole deeper."

To make public colleges and universities places where middle-class and lower-income students can receive a high-quality and affordable education, he said, he believes states need to reject more of their tax cuts and use the money to fund public colleges at proper levels.

The full report is online at cbpp.org.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ