Annual update on higher education finance shows Utah growth outpacing other states

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) recently released its annual update on state higher education finance (interactive report here). This report provides a useful state-by-state comparison of funding of public higher education.

Utah is among 10 “boomerang states,” defined as those that had a 20% or larger cut in educational appropriations per FTE between the pre-recession high-point in 2008 and the low point in 2012, coupled with a 20% or larger increase in educational appropriations between the 2012 low point and FY 2016. However, it’s important to note that none of these states has surpassed its pre-recession high points in educational appropriations.

Utah college student growth is outpacing the U.S.

Compared with other states, Utah has had significant increases in higher education revenues in recent years, yet is still highly efficient due to the extraordinary student growth that has occurred since 2008. Utah public colleges and universities have had the 5th highest percentage enrollment increase of full-time equivalent (FTE) students since the recession (18.1%), behind Texas (26.8%), Idaho (20.0%), Arizona (19.7%), and South Carolina (18.5%).

State support in recent years has been critical.

Utah ranks 6th in the largest percentage increase in appropriations per FTE over the past 5 years, behind Oregon, Indiana, North Dakota, California and Nebraska. However, Utah ranks 26th in the highest percentage change in appropriations per FTE since 2008 (-17.6%).


Long-term trends

For more than 15 years, The student share (net tuition) as a proportion of total higher education revenues in Utah has consistently ranked slightly below the US average, ranking 33rd-36th. In 2010-2013, Utah briefly jumped ranks as all other states dealt with more drastic recession-related budget decreases, thus impacting their ability to fund the state portion of higher education costs. Those rankings have since reverted back to past trends. In 2016, Utah ranked 33rd. Utah also consistently ranks similarly in the amount of education appropriations per FTE student.

Net Tuition as a Percent of Total Revenue (Tuition & State Funds) – 1991-2016