North Dakota and Alaska were the only two states in the country that increased higher education spending from 2008 to 2014, according to Market Watch staffer Jillian Berman. North Dakota increased spending by 38% and Alaska by 6%, while every other state cut funding during the same period. States cut per student spending by 21% on average during that period according to a report released by Young Invincibles, a nonprofit millennial advocacy group.
Even as the economy recovers, states’ level of funding for their higher education institutions hasn’t bounced back, the report found. The reasons for the cutbacks (or in two cases, the growth) in spending on colleges and universities vary based on state budget constraints, revenues and other factors. But there may also be a broader explanation for continued disinvestment in higher education, which is that it’s easy for policy makers to put funding for colleges and universities on the chopping block because constituents don’t get as agitated by the cuts as they would about say, a tax increase, said Tom Allison, the report’s author.