State funding for colleges and universities appears to be rebounding across the nation. Illinois State University Professor Jim Palmer says his annual survey shows state legislatures spent nearly 6% more on higher education last year. Palmer says these funding swings tend to track recessions and the economy fairly closely:
“Certainty higher education is an easier target for budget cuts at the state level because it’s a discretionary item. And at least in the past higher education has been able to fall back on tuition increases. That isn’t the case, for example, with corrections or health care.”
But, funding in 35 states is still below where it was for Colleges and Universities five years ago. Palmer says Illinois's one year jump of nearly 15% is misleading, because most of that has gone to pension payments and not operations. The survey does not account for inflation. Palmer says scholarship is mixed whether higher education funding has ever recovered from pre-recession levels in the last forty years, after inflation.