ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico is spending $4,383 less per student than it did before 2008, when adjusted for inflation.
Only two states—Louisiana and Alabama—have made deeper cuts. And although most states—including New Mexico—have increased funding for higher ed over the last few years, 47 states are still spending less per student on higher education than before the recession.
These are among the findings of a report released this week by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). As a result of these cuts, tuition at the nation’s public colleges and universities has increased on average almost 30 percent since 2008 on a per-student, inflation-adjusted basis. New Mexico’s tuition increase was just slightly lower at about 28 percent.
The report’s authors believe funding cuts and tuition increases jeopardize the nation’s economic future, as fewer adults have the opportunity to earn college degrees.
“Investments in higher education are essential in building New Mexico’s workforce and improving our economy,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D, executive director of NM Voices for Children. “New Mexico has high rates of poverty and that is not likely to change until we ensure that a college education is affordable for everyone.”
Besides raising tuition, many states have also cut faculty and academic programs. Students are also facing enormous student loan debt, which will inhibit their ability to purchase a home and make other positive contributions to their communities and the economy.
“Policy makers like to claim that they aren’t raising taxes, but hiking tuition to cover funding cuts has the same effect as raising taxes—except that these new expenses are leveled squarely at those who can least afford it, young people just starting out,” Dr. García said. “The small funding increases of the past few years have not restored higher ed to its pre-recession levels. Instead of cutting taxes for profitable corporations—which amounts to giving away money we don’t have in pursuit of jobs that don’t materialize—we should be investing in the next generation of New Mexico’s workforce. That’s a proven economic development plan,” she added.