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By Paul Bradley  /  
2015 August 12 - 11:33 pm

AUGUST 17: Academic Kickoff 2015-16

Politicians and Policymakers Take Steps to Halt State Disinvestment and its Impact on College Costs.

 Over just a few short years, community colleges have ascended to a place that once seemed unimaginable to even a sector once dismissed as higher education’s unwanted stepchild. The colleges have been cited as the linchpin of the country’s economic future. They are frequently singled out for praise by President Obama. They have attracted the attention and support of leading foundations. But even as the sector has basked in its newfound glory, it also has been afflicted by an opposite trend: disinvestment -- the steady decline in public funding, even as demands for accountability and better results grow ever louder, forcing colleges to do more and more with less and less. The trend has been most pronounced among the 50 states. According to a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts, state spending on higher education declined by 37 percent from 2000 to 2012, while federal spending increased by 32 percent, primarily due to spending on Pell grants. In 2010, for the first time, federal funding on higher education exceeded state funding. Now, leading politicians and policymakers are taking steps to try and halt state disinvestment and its resulting impact on costs. The centerpiece of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s $350 billion proposal to make college more affordable is a $200 billion incentive system aimed at encouraging states to expand their investments in higher education and cut student costs. States that guarantee “no-loan” tuition at four-year public schools and free tuition at community colleges would be eligible to receive federal funds. Sen. Bernie Sanders college-cost plan includes a similar feature. 

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