College Subsidies Hit Decade Low as Students Pay at Least Half of Their Education Cost for the First Time

Date: 7/28/2014 through 7/28/2014

Washington, D.C. – Subsidies for public higher education institutions have hit a 10-year low while students for the first time pay on average half or more of their education’s cost, finds a report by the Delta Cost Project at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). Community colleges, the analysis also shows, are posting the lowest level of spending per student in a decade.

"Students are paying an ever-larger share of the costs colleges and universities incur to provide an education—particularly students at public institutions," report lead author and AIR principal researcher Donna Desrochers said. "Research universities are still feeling the recession’s aftermath, with academic spending per student declining for two years straight while spending at other four-year institutions rose."

The authors used 2001-2011 data compiled by the Delta Cost Project from information institutions reported to the U.S. Department of Education.

Key findings include:

Student Share of Costs/Subsidy




To read the full version of Trends in College Spending: 2001–2011, visit www.deltacostproject.org or www.air.org. For information on individual colleges and universities performance on these metrics, visit the Trends in College Spending Online website.

About AIR

Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity. For more information, visit www.air.org.


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