Massachusetts Neglects Its Public Colleges: New Study Documents Meltdown

The report demonstrates the downward trend that students and staff at our public colleges have been feeling in their guts as fewer faculty teach larger classes, buildings crumble, and students scramble to make ends meet.  “When the state cuts, students are forced to pay more.  When students can’t afford to pay more, they drop out and we pay more on social services while taking in less in taxes.  Where’s the logic in that?” said Tim Sutton, President of the Graduate Employee Organization at UMass Amherst.

  • State appropriations in Massachusetts fell 14% from 2003 to 2008.  Only 3 states in the country had a steeper decline in their support for higher education.  Enrollment at Massachusetts public colleges increased by 14.6% in those 5 years – and significantly more since then.
  • Considering the wealth in our state, only 3 states supported public higher education at a lower rate.  Public higher education received $4.05 from the state for every $1,000 of personal income.  The national average is $7.40.  Among the states that do better than Massachusetts are not only California, Michigan and New York but also Mississippi, Alabama, and Alaska.
  • Massachusetts is above the national average in the proportion of higher education revenue paid by students, and that proportion is rising steadily.

According to PHENOM spokesperson Ken Haar, professor at Westfield State College,  “The vast majority of public college graduates stay in Massachusetts and contribute to their communities and the state’s economy.  If politicians haven’t seen the folly of their ways until now, maybe this report will open their eyes.  PHENOM is sending it to every legislator.”

1.         State appropriations per FTE, change 2003 -2008   (Figure 6)

US average               +0.7%

Massachusetts          -14.0%.

Only 3 states had a steeper decline.

2.         Total educational revenue per FTE change 2003 -2008   (Figure 8)

US average               +7.2%

Massachusetts          -2.7%

Only 6 states were negative.  Only New Jersey had a sharper decline.

3.         Higher Ed support per capita  FY 2008    (Table 10)

US average               $294

Massachusetts          $206

The only states lower than Massachusetts were Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Colorado.

4.         Higher Ed support per $1,000 of personal income  FY 2008    (Table 10)

US average               $7.40

Massachusetts          $4.05

The only states lower than Massachusetts were Vermont, New Hampshire and Colorado.

5.         Percent of total state revenues going to public higher education  FY 2006

(Table 10)

US average  6.5%

Massachusetts  3.9%

The only states lower than Massachusetts were Vermont, New Hampshire and Colorado, and Rhode Island.

6.         Net tuition as a percent of total public higher ed revenues FY 2008 (Figure 7)

US average 36.3%.

Massachusetts about 39.9%