Opinion: State’s Cuts To Higher Education Quite Shortsighted

"A college education is an investment in an individual’s future, and tens of thousands of Alabama students and their families treat it as such, making whatever sacrifices they have to make to obtain it. It’s also an investment in Alabama’s future, but the state doesn’t treat it that way," according to an editorial in the Montgomery Advertiser

"For years, Alabama’s universities have seen their state support dwindle, as the state invests less and less in higher education. The result, predictably, has been steady increases in tuition and, no less predictably, an ever-heavier financial burden on families and students.

Cuts in higher education funding are a textbook example of false economy. Alabama isn’t saving money by poorly funding these institutions. Instead, the state is shortchanging its future by helping make it harder for its people to get a college education.

Education affordability in our state is among the lowest in the country. A nationwide survey released earlier this year ranked Alabama 39th. Other statistics in that study paint a troubling picture.

Alabama ranked sixth highest in the combined drop in state funding and rise in tuition from 2008 through 2012. The state’s per-student funding for higher education dropped by $4,221 in that period, while the average tuition rose by $2,193. Put another way, state funding fell 36.5 percent while tuition rose 41.3 percent.

Perhaps most telling of all are these figures: In 2008, tuition costs at a four-year state institution consumed 11.9 percent of the median family income in Alabama. By 2012, it was 18.4 percent, a jump of 55 percent."

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