newsday.comBy RICHARD VEDDER. Get public-university presidents together, and they start complaining about the diminishing amount of subsidy support from their state governments. A review of historical data shows that from the early 1980s until the year before the recent financial crisis, inflation- adjusted state funding per student was essentially unchanged. Over the last generation, an academic arms race has considerably increased total spending per student, so as a percentage of university budgets, state appropriations have sharply fallen.
At some flagship state universities, the cuts in appropriations have been real in absolute dollar terms. The state share of academically related university spending (excluding revenue items such as food, lodging, hospitals and intercollegiate athletics) is now less than 10 percent. This, however, varies among the states: Per-capita university appropriations in fiscal year 2012 ranged from $63 in New Hampshire to $592 in Wyoming; California ($256) spent 80 percent more per capita than Pennsylvania ($143), although the Golden State continues to face a very challenging fiscal outlook. More...