MEDIA RELEASE: State investment in post-secondary education sharply declines

UNC system and community colleges suffer due to steep budget cuts, leading to rising tuition and declining need-based aid
RALEIGH (April 4, 2012) – North Carolina’s investment in post-secondary education has declined sharply over the Great Recession, a new report finds, with the most recent budget cuts reducing funds for post-secondary education to a 40-year low as a share of the state’s economy.
Post-secondary institutions in North Carolina sustained a $917.2 million state budget cut in the 2011-13 budget passed last spring, according to a new report from the NC Budget & Tax Center. The University of North Carolina system saw its state appropriation cut by $682.2 million and community college system by $235 million.
In 2011-2012, North Carolina policymakers invested just $9.88 per $1,000 in state personal income in post-secondary education, the report said, down from the 30-year average of $12.37. During this same period, tuition within the university system and community colleges increased by 34 and 17.7 percent, respectively, even as need-based aid has declined or remained flat.
“For first-generation and low-income students considering post-secondary education, these increased costs represent a barrier to the pursuit of higher education,” said Alexandra Forter Sirota, director of the BTC and co-author of the report.
Although the state has long been nationally recognized for its investment in post-secondary education as a means of spurring economic expansion, the decline in state investment could impact student completion of educational programs, the report said. Post-secondary education is increasingly seen as the best pathway to the middle class, and by 2018, nearly 60 percent of the state’s jobs will require some post-secondary education.
“North Carolina has long recognized that the pathway to the middle-class passes through the school house door, but the economy of the future will increasingly require a route through post-secondary campuses,” Sirota said. “For North Carolina to remain competitive, it will be critical to adequately invest in post-secondary education and proven programs to support completion.”
An event at NCCU this evening will feature presentations by Alexandra Sirota and others on national trends in state disinvestment in post-secondary education. To find out more about the event, click here.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Alexandra Forter Sirota, BTC Director, 919.861.1468,; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, NC Justice Center, 503.551.3615 (cell),