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In 2018, not only did tuition rates for US higher education hold relatively flat, but US state and local government spending on higher education grew in line with inflation for a total contribution of $99 billion, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. Government funding for higher education tumbled in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, but has since rebounded, growing approximately 20 percent in the last 5 years.


Some would argue that while these trends are positive, they are not enough. With an increasing focus on affordable higher education, the question then becomes one of how to protect funding for education and/or identifying additional streams of funding that can help offset tuition fees, for the greater good of the students and the US economy.

  • US post-secondary education remains costly, pushing students to rely on education loans. In 27 states—out of 50 states and the District of Colombia—public higher education finances depend more on tuition (paid by the student) than government educational appropriations.
  • The cost of education has direct economic costs as well. In the US, earnings depend significantly on educational achievement. An advanced degree will earn you nearly twice your peer without the degree, and yet while the share of Americans with a degree is increasing, only about 40 percent of US adults currently hold a post-secondary degree (associate, bachelor, or graduate).

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