Report: Higher education support in state budget eroding

President Meehan Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site. STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE BOSTON -- Massachusetts has cut its higher education funding by an inflation-adjusted 14 percent since 2001, as both tuition and fees and student debt have increased, a new report found. The declining support for the University of Massachusetts system, four-year state universities and two-year community colleges comes amidst "growing importance" of public higher education to the state's long-term health, according to the report, released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. "We've seen very clearly how central having an educated workforce is to having a strong, high-wage economy in the modern world," MassBudget president Noah Berger said. "That correlation is extremely strong and getting stronger." As total state funding has declined, student enrollment has gone up, according to the report, leading to a 31 percent drop in per-student spending since 2001, as adjusted for inflation. This year's $39.25 billion state budget - which pays for everything from health care to transportation to local aid, public pensions and more - allocated more than $509 million for the UMass system, $248 million for the nine state universities and colleges, and $271 million for the 15 community colleges. According to the report, state funding per student is down $3,000 since the...

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