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Report Shows Deep Cuts to University Funding

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017   

RICHMOND, Ky. - Kentucky has made some of the deepest cuts to state funding for higher education since the recession took hold in 2008, according to a new national report released today.

When adjusted for inflation, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report said, state funding per student in the Bluegrass State is down 26.4 percent, more severe than the national average of 16 percent.

Ian Cruickshank, a sophomore at Eastern Kentucky University, said it's taking a toll on students, including him.

"This past summer, I had to come up with $4,000 just to be able to come back, so I had to work all summer, and I still actually couldn't afford it, so I had to borrow a lot of money from my parents," he said. "And then this upcoming semester, it actually has raised, so instead of paying $4,000, I have to pay $9,000 directly out of my pocket."

According to the national report, 44 states, including Kentucky, are spending less per student than when the recession hit, while tuition has gone up in every state. Adjusted for inflation, it's risen 37 percent in Kentucky, close to the national average.

Ashley Spalding, research and policy associate with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said it's "very concerning" that unlike most states, Kentucky is not reinvesting in higher education. According to the report, Kentucky was one of just 13 states that cut funding this past year.

"Investments in education are investments in the economy," she said. "Reduced access to post-seconondary education is especially harmful for low-income students and students of color. This is not the direction that we want to keep going in."

Jordan Taylor, 27, of Paris didn't start college until he was 24. After graduating from community college, he enrolled at EKU this semester. While he relies on federal and state grants, he said, he still has to take out loans.

"I'm hoping to graduate with my bachelor's degree with, like, $18,000 total in loan debt," he said. "How long that's going to take, I'm not sure. It may take the rest of my life, for all I know."

Taylor said the investment will be "worth it" if he can get a good job in his dream field: broadcasting.

The report is online at cbpp.org.


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