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NM Made Second Largest Education Cuts Since Recession

NM Made Second Largest Education Cuts Since Recession

Tuition Increases Make College Less Affordable For Low-Income Students

New Mexico’s state funding for higher education is 33 percent less now than it was before the recession, when looking at inflation-adjusted state spending per student. The state is spending $4,509 less in 2017 than it did in 2008 on a per student, inflation-adjusted basis. Only Louisiana has made deeper cuts over that time period.

These are among the findings of a report released by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. As a result of these funding cuts, tuition at the nation’s public four-year colleges and universities has increased 35 percent on average since 2008 on a per-student, inflation-adjusted basis. New Mexico has seen the same 35 percent tuition increase over that time period.

The report’s authors believe that tuition increases and cuts to higher education funding threaten the nation’s economic future. Funding cuts drive tuition increases that make it less likely low-income students both enroll in and finish college. Unfortunately, across the U.S., the percentage of need-based financial aid as a share of state-funded financial aid continues to decrease.

This is especially true in New Mexico where only 24 percent of the state’s financial aid is need-based, compared with 76 percent nationwide, said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children.

“Low-income students and their families are having a hard time absorbing rising tuition costs and New Mexico once again ranks worst nationwide in student loan default rates,” he said in a press release.

While most states are putting resources back into public higher education and have increased per-student funding between the 2016 and 2017 school years, New Mexico cut spending by over 5 percent on a per-student basis during that time period.

“To renew investment in higher education once again — and prevent further disinvestment — New Mexico should reject calls for corporate tax cuts disguised as tax reform and consider options for new revenue so we can properly invest in New Mexico’s future workforce and stop shifting the costs from the state to students,” said Jimenez.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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