National study: Idaho higher ed budget increases defy trends

A new national study has some surprising news on higher education funding: Idaho’s budget is one bright spot in a grim picture.

The numbers — calculating states’ support for higher education — come from Grapevine, a project of Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers. The data drop:

  • Idaho’s higher education spending increased by 4.1 percent in 2017-18, compared to 1.6 percent nationally. Only 10 states increased their spending by a higher percentage.
  • Idaho’s spending has increased by 33 percent since 2012-13; only eight states posted larger increases. Nationally, spending increased by 20.7 percent over five years.

These funding increases don’t only defy national trends. They also come as the higher education system is receiving a dwindling share of Idaho’s general fund budget, and shifting the cost of college to students and parents.

In 2017-18, Idaho’s college and university system received $287.1 million in general fund dollars. But that only means the system is still catching up from the Great Recession; in 2008-09, the state approved a $285.2 million higher education budget. And higher education received only 8.3 percent of Idaho’s 2017-18 general fund, compared to a 12.6 percent share in 1996-97.

However, the Grapevine report takes a deeper look at state funding on higher education. States were asked to report their funding for two- and four-year colleges; budgets for higher education governing boards (in Idaho’s case, the State Board of Education); two-year career-technical schools; and student scholarships and financial aid. Student fees and federal dollars are not included.

According to the Grapevine calculations, Idaho has committed $479 million to higher education in 2017-18.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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