FILE - University of Michigan campus

A sign welcomes visitors to the Stephen M. Ross School of Business on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, Mich.

A recent report found that students bear the brunt of higher education costs made worse by state cuts to public colleges and universities.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a nonpartisan research think tank, found that since 2008, per-student funding for Michigan’s public colleges and universities is 15 percent less than the 2008 funding level.

In the same period, CBPP found the average tuition of four-year public colleges and universities in Michigan increased by $3,075with an average of $898 cut from per-student funding.

Decreased state funding plus rising higher education costs helped push the 2017 average debt per borrower in Michigan to $30,978, according to online credit marketplace Lendedu, up 52 percent from 2007.

The report showed average debt per borrower at Michigan State University increased 52 percent from $21,174 in 2007 to $32,310 in 2017.

A September report from The Century Foundation (TCF) echoed similar sentiments that “Michigan is facing a perfect storm in college affordability,” TCF senior fellow Jen Mishory wrote.

“On top of that, tuition, fees, and living costs continue to climb faster and faster, while real wages for most Michigan families have actually fallen,” Mishory continued. “What you’re left with is a system of higher education that is increasingly unequal, unsustainable, and out of reach, especially for those Michiganders most in need.”

According to the report:

• Michigan has cut state appropriations per student by 40 percent since 2000.

• The state allocates $5,492 per public university student, the 12th-lowest in the nation, and $3,265 per community college student, the 15th-lowest in the nation.

• The total cost of attendance for lower-income families after financial aid averages about one-third of household income for a public university, and one-sixth for a community college.


Higher education costs comprised 4.1 percent of Michigan’s expenditures in fiscal year 2018, compared to a 10 percent national average, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.

That follows a national trend. The CPBB report found 41 states spent less per student than in 2008, after adjusting for inflation, with a 13 percent average decrease, or $1,220.

Per-student funding dropped more than 30 percent in Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

For all 50 states, tuition at four-year public colleges increased by $2,708, or 37 percent, since 2008.

“Total state funding for public two- and four-year colleges in the school year ending in 2018 was more than $6.6 billion below what it was in 2008 as the Great Recession was fully taking hold, in inflation-adjusted terms,” the summary stated. “Funding has rebounded somewhat, but costs remain high and services in some places have not returned.”

State Funding for Higher Education Fell Dramatically During and After the Great Recession

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on and Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.