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By the Numbers: A Digest of Higher Education Data



It is no secret that state appropriations for higher education are going down. Still, the data can be sobering.

According to the College Board, state appropriations per FTE student declined by 23 percent over the past decade, after adjusting for inflation. This comes after increases of 6 percent and 5 percent in the 1980s and 1990s, respectively (see figure below). Moreover, the 18 percent inflation-adjusted decline in state appropriations per FTE student from 200708 to 201011 was the largest three-year decline in the 30 years the College Board has been collecting these data.

The College Board collects this information through its Annual Survey of Colleges, and publishes the findings in its annual Trends in College Pricing 2011 report. This document provides information on changes over time in undergraduate tuition and fees, room and board, and other expenses.

Among the survey’s other key findings:

  • California plays an influential role in several statistical trends. Between the 2010-20111 and 2011-2012 years, tuition and fees for public, four-year colleges increased 8.3 percent including California, but 7 percent when excluding the state. Similarly, the increase for public two-year institutions during the same time period was 8.7 percent including California, and 7.4 excluding California. California’s tuition and fees spiked by 21 percent for public fouryear universities in 2010-2011, and 37 percent at public two-year colleges.
  • In 2010, median family income for those with a bachelor’s degree or more was $99,716, compared with $48,332 for those with only a high school diploma.
  • In 2011-12, full-time undergraduates received about $5,750 in grant aid from all sources and federal tax benefits at public four-year institutions. The same figure was $15,530 at private nonprofit four-year institutions and $3,770 at public two-year colleges.
  • Median tuition and fees were an estimated $8,274 for full-time, public four-year college students (including in-state and out-of-state students). For students enrolled in private, nonprofit four-year institutions, the median charges were $29,492.
  • Western states had the widest gap in costs between two-year and four-year institutions. Average tuition and fees at public two-year institutions there are $6,362 less than (or 23 percent of) their four-year counterparts. The smallest gap is $3,967, in the South region.
  • Between 1980 and 2010, average family income declined by 7 percent ($1,160 in constant 2010 dollars) for the poorest 20 percent of families. Average incomes rose 14 percent ($7,249) for the middle 20 percent and 78 percent ($136,923) for the wealthiest 5 percent.
  • The percentage of full-time instructional faculty is falling, from 77 percent in 1971 to 65 percent in 1991 to 51 percent in 2009.