Demos, a non-partisan research and policy organization, has updated its 2012 report, The Great Cost Shift. The initial report found that disinvestment in public higher education undermined the stability of the middle class by shifting costs to students and their families.
In its new report, The Great Cost Shift Continues, Demos has found that the trend of disinvestment continues unabated:
“In less than a generation, our nation’s higher education system has become a debt-for-diploma system — more than seven out of ten college seniors now borrow to pay for college and graduate with an average debt of $29,400.”
The report found all but one state, North Dakota, is spending less per student than they did before the recession, and more than half the states cut higher education funding by more than 25 percent.
Most universities responded to funding cuts with tuition increases. The average tuition at a four-year institution costs more than 15 percent of the median household income in 26 states, including Wisconsin.
Wisconsin ranks in the bottom half of states in several measures:
- 39th, state funding for higher education per FTE State funding dropped 20.2% from 2007-08 to 2011-12 ($6,432 vs. $5,295).
- 30th, average 4-year state tuition costs Tuition rose more than 17% from 2007-08 to 2011-12 ($6,677 vs. $7,851). Only 20 states have higher average 4-year tuition rates.
- 29th, state higher education affordability Tuition at a 4-year state institution now takes 15.7% of the state’s median family income, compared to 12.3% five years ago.
Demos was founded in 2000 and focuses its work on three areas — achieving democracy through a guaranteed right to vote and reducing the amount of money in elections, the creation of a strong, diverse middle class through a sustainable economy, and the transformation of the public narrative to elevate the values of community and racial equity.