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Indicator IV-5 State Funding for Higher Education
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Updated (7/28/2010).

Currently, no data concerning states’ commitment to the humanities departments of the nation’s postsecondary institutions exist. This indicator can thus describe only state appropriations for higher education generally. In so doing, however, it does suggest the conditions under which humanities departments on the campuses of public colleges and universities must compete with other fields for funding.

The data presented here for the 1965–2009 time frame come from the Illinois State University’s Center for the Study of Education Policy’s annual Grapevine Survey of state tax appropriations for higher education. These data reveal that state expenditures rose almost every year between 1965 and 1990 (Figure IV-5a). Then, after a short period of decline, expenditures began rising again, so that by 2002 states were spending a record $82.3 billion (in 2009 dollars) on postsecondary education. State spending then dropped 11% between the peak year of 2002 and 2005. This was the largest three-year decline (in both absolute and percentage terms) ever recorded by the Grapevine Survey. Appropriations increased each year between 2005 and 2008, but the year 2009 saw a slight decline in spending, one that may become more pronounced as states rescind appropriations in response to the global economic recession and the large budget shortfalls the recession has created in many states.

Figure IV-5a, Full Size
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Such national figures, however, mask substantial differences in the degree of individual states’ monetary commitments to higher education. Grapevine data reveal that while the average state appropriation was $272 per capita, the level of state investment ranged from $102 per capita in New Hampshire to more than five times that amount in Wyoming (Figure IV-5b).

Figure IV-5b, Full Size
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