25 Years of Declining State Support for Public Colleges

An Era of Neglect | The Tipping Point | Equalizers No More | Explore State Support by College | Who Foots the Bill?

Explore how state and federal support has declined as a share of overall revenue—putting a greater burden on students—at more than 600 four-year public colleges and universities since 1987.

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About the Data

The data are based on revenue reported by institutions to the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System for the fiscal years 1987 to 2012.

Colleges that didn’t report any finance data to Ipeds in either 1987 or 2012 were excluded from the table. U.S. service academies, which are fully funded by the federal government, were also excluded. Only colleges who report financial data to Ipeds using the Governmental Accounting Standards Board reporting schema, which is used by most public institutions, were included in this table.

For purposes of this analysis, total revenue, which is used to calculate shares from various sources, excludes revenue from sales and services of hospitals, educational activities and auxiliary enterprises; independent operations; and endowment or investment income.

Revenue from state sources is the total amount of state grants and appropriations to the institution.

Revenue from federal sources includes all federal grants and appropriations to the institution except for Pell Grants, which are included in tuition revenue.

Net tuition revenue includes all revenue from tuition and fees minus institutional grants to students. Net tuition revenue can include state or federal grant aid directed to students to help pay for college.

Institutions receive other revenue beyond that from state governments, the federal government, and tuition. Such other revenue includes money from local governments, gifts and contributions, and various miscellaneous sources. As a result, the sum of the shares of state, federal, and tuition revenue may not add up to 100 percent.

Editor’s Note (3/4/2014, 10:30 a.m.): Due to inconsistencies in data reported to the U.S. Department of Education for the 1987 fiscal year, the following institutions have been removed from this table: University of Maine at Augusta, University of Maine at Farmington, University of Maine at Fort Kent, University of Maine at Machias, University of Maine at Orono, University of Maine at Presque Isle, University of Southern Maine, and University of South Carolina at Aiken.

Correction (6/23/2014, 2:25 p.m.): A number of institutions that were classified as two-year public colleges during part of the period from 1987 to 2012 were originally included in this table. Because the table was intended to be limited to four-year public institutions, 87 colleges have been removed from it.