President's Blog

How does Virginia stack up in public higher education funding?

By  Callie LeRenard and Ángel Cabrera


This blog has discussed already the changing social contract for higher education and how students across the U.S. are now picking up a larger portion of the tab for degrees that were once heavily subsidized by the states.  We’re often asked how our home state stacks up against trends in the rest of the country.  A good source to answer these questions is the State Higher Education Finance Report for FY2011.

In short, Virginia’s decline in appropriations per student FTE are on par with national trends, with a 11.1% decline over the last five years versus a national average decline of 12.5%.


Another way to answer this question is to look at the share of tax revenues that are allocated to higher education.  Against an average of 6.9%, Virginia allocates 6% of its state revenues to higher education (New Mexico provides the largest share, at 15% of state revenue, and New Hampshire, the lowest, at 2.7% of state revenue).  In absolute terms, Virginia allocated $5,229 per FTE in 2011, which is over $1000 per FTE less than the national average of $6,290.

According to the SHEFF Report (see graph below), Virginia falls below the national average in state appropriations for higher education over a 25 year period.  Twenty two states have seen above average appropriations during that 25 year period, with Wyoming and Alaska leading the pack, while New Hampshire, Vermont and Colorado are furthest below the US average.  Virginia, once again, sits in the middle of the range of those states that are below the national average.


State Differences from U.S. Average Over 25 Years and in 2011
(Constant Adjusted 2011 Dollars)