Good news first: state support for higher education increased last year. Newly released data by researchers at Illinois State University show an increase of 4.1 percent in state support last year. In Virginia too, public support grew, although at a slower rate of 2.9 percent.
Every year since 1960, the Grapevine survey compiles the fiscal support states offer to higher education. The most recent survey includes some analysis of state support per capita and per $1000 in personal income. This helps compare states by controlling for differences in population and wealth.
And here come the bad news: For fiscal year 2016, Virginia ranked 34th out of 48 states (Illinois and Pennsylvania were excluded as their budgets were not finalized), in terms of state support per capita. Relative to our wealth, we do even worse: Virginia is 40th out of 48 states in terms of state support per $1000 in personal income. These ranks are nearly unchanged from the previous year.
In general, state support for higher education has improved compared to previous years. Yet, there are 15 states where support in 2016 remains lower than it was in 2011, but this is down from the 25 states where support in 2015 was lower than it was in 2010.