Bouncebacks in Higher Education Funding

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Bouncebacks in Higher Education Funding: Patterns in Length of Time to Recovery Following Cuts in State Appropriations


William Doyle (BIO)

Assistant Professor, Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations
Vanderbilt University

Jennifer Delaney (BIO)

Assistant Professor, Department of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Faculty Affiliate, WISCAPE
University of Wisconsin-Madison


State appropriations for higher education are highly cyclical, with downturns in funding during difficult financial times followed by increases in funding when state finances improve. This policy brief shares recent research about whether the duration of recoveries from cuts in appropriations for higher education has changed over time and which characteristics of states are associated with shorter or longer durations for recovery.

The authors investigate national trends and provide detailed descriptions for five states: California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Wisconsin. They find that the duration of recoveries has increased in each decade from 1979 to 2007 and that states with higher tuition and a centralized governing board are likely to face longer recovery times. The authors conclude with implications and recommendations for campus leaders and policymakers.


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