Demos, a non-partisan research and policy organization, has published The Great Cost Shift, a report that shows how state disinvestment in higher education has undermined the stability of the middle class. The study found that cuts to public higher education over the past twenty years have resulted in a dramatic shift in cost to students and their families.
Among the findings:
- Young adults today are much more ethnically and racially diverse and more likely to enroll in college than their counterparts in the 1990’s.
- Public institutions accounted for the majority of growth (65.6 percent) among undergraduate students since 1990.
- Funding for public higher education fell by 26 percent over the past 20 years, resulting in a 116 percent increase in tuition (4-year institutions). Tuition rose by 71 percent at 2-year institutions. At the same time, median household income rose only 2.1 percent.
- Recovery in higher education funding has increased in every economic downturn since 1979.
- More students are using federal and private loans to pay for higher education. Student debt has increased by a factor of 4.5 since 1999.
Demos was founded in 2000 and focuses its work on three areas — economic stability for all, a robust democracy with high levels of participation, and a strong public sector that works for the common good.