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Higher education spending down 22 percent

By Samuel Speciale, Education reporter

West Virginia has spent 22 percent less on higher education per student in the 2013-2014 school year than it did in 2008, according to a report released Thursday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Compared to the last fiscal year, West Virginia is spending $330 less per student. While it isn’t the only state to have slashed higher education budgets over the years, it is one of eight that continue to make cuts.

Of those eight states, West Virginia has the second-deepest cuts while the other 42 states have begun to restore higher education funding to what it was before recession-induced cuts were made.

This is the second consecutive year higher education in West Virginia has received cuts.

When Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin released his 2014-2015 budget, he called on state agencies to cut spending by $33 million, $3.1 million of which would be stripped from higher education.

This raised concerns among education officials because West Virginia is a low-income state and more cuts could result in even steeper college tuition, which could discourage students from continuing their education.

The forecast for higher education in West Virginia was similar to other states where the average annual tuition has increased by 28 percent since 2008. West Virginia isn’t far behind as tuition has increased by 26.8 percent in that same time frame.

Per Tomblin’s orders, most universities had to deal with a second 7.5 percent budget cut, but West Virginia University and Marshall University absorbed even more of the $3.1 million blow. WVU lost $1.1 million and Marshall lost more than $500,000.

Marshall’s Board of Governors responded in April by approving tuition and fee increases, which will cause in-state undergraduate students to pay an additional $155 per semester, out-of-state students to pay $290 more and metro students to pay $325 more starting in the fall.

The report also found that the rapid rise in tuition has increased student debt, deterred low-income students from enrolling and has seriously impacted students’ future career earnings.

Contact writer Samuel Speciale at sam.speciale@dailymwailwv.com or 304-348-4886. Follow him at www.twitter.com/wvschools.


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