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Arizona Still Leading the Nation in Tuition Hikes, Higher-Ed Funding Cuts

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A think tank that keeps tabs on higher-education funding says  Arizona remains the leader in tuition hikes and state-funding decreases in 2015.

Arizona already was the "leader" in both categories in 2014, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

"[Arizona] lawmakers are cutting public support for the state's four-year colleges and universities by nearly $100 million, and community colleges by $16 million," this year's report states. "Arizona's higher education funding already stands nearly 50 percent below pre-recession levels, and tuition at its public four-year colleges has increased by almost 84 percent since 2008."

(For what it's worth, the founder of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Robert Greenstein, has been involved in several Democratic presidents' administrations.)

Based on state funding data compiled by researchers at Illinois State University, Arizona's spending on higher education modestly increased from 2014 to 2015.
However, as you can see in the next chart, the level of Arizona's higher-education funding remains nowhere near where it was in 2008.
Meanwhile, there's been a corresponding increase in tuition increases. Arizona's by far had the biggest tuition increases since before the recession, and the tuition rates continue to climb.

"In Arizona, the state with the greatest tuition increases since the recession hit, tuition has risen 83.6 percent, or $4,734 per student, after adjusting for inflation," the report states. "Average tuition at a four-year Arizona public university is now $10,398 a year."

The funding decreases don't take into account the future cuts just recently approved by the Arizona Legislature, of nearly $100 million.

That cut was publicly blasted by Arizona State University president Michael Crow, but Governor Doug Ducey defended the budget.

Ducey's office previously told New Times that, "This budget makes real, permanent decisions to ensure government isn't spending more money than it takes in, while also protecting the areas Arizonans know are vital."

The governor's office also highlighted that there actually was that spending increase for this year, adding that the state's $600 million in spending on higher education is "significant."

Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.

Follow Matthew Hendley at @MatthewHendley.

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