May 18, 2015

NM has one of largest cuts to higher education funding

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According to a recent report, New Mexico has one of the largest cuts to higher education funding in the nation.

ThinkingThe report from the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities looked at inflation-adjusted funding for higher education since the recession. The report found that the funding in New Mexico has dropped 32.2 percent since 2008, when adjusted for inflation. This works out to more than $4,300 per student.

Only three states, Alaska, Wyoming and North Dakota, have seen higher education funding increase since 2008.

The cuts come despite increased higher education funding in the last year; New Mexico increased funding 4.7 percent in 2014-2015 according to the report.

A local group says that the cuts in funding is bad for the state.

“Policy makers like to claim that they aren’t raising taxes, but hiking tuition to cover funding cuts has the same effect as raising taxes—except that these new expenses are leveled squarely at those who can least afford it, young people just starting out,” Veronica C. García, Ed.D, executive director of NM Voices for Children said in a statement last week. “The small funding increases of the past few years have not restored higher ed to its pre-recession levels.”

“Instead of cutting taxes for profitable corporations—which amounts to giving away money we don’t have in pursuit of jobs that don’t materialize—we should be investing in the next generation of New Mexico’s workforce,” she continued. “That’s a proven economic development plan.”

The study says that the cuts in higher education funding in states throughout the country comes despite an increase in college age population. Some of the gap has been bridged through increases in tuition.

Students at the University of New Mexico will see a three percent tuition hike this fall along with increased fees.

In all, New Mexico has seen tuition increase 27.6 percent since 2008, or $1,339 per year.

“A slow economic recovery and the need to reinvest in other services that also have been cut deeply means that many states will need to raise revenue to rebuild their higher education systems,” the study says. “At the very least, states must avoid shortsighted tax cuts, which would make it much harder for them to invest in higher education, strengthen the skills of their workforce, and compete for — or even create — the jobs of the future.”

New Mexico has also seen < ahref="http://www.abqjournal.com/586183/news/nms-higher-education-enrollment-drops-83.html" target="_blank">the deepest drops in higher education enrollment in the country.

From the Albuquerque Journal:

From spring semester 2014 to the spring of 2015, enrollment in New Mexico’s post-secondary institutions plummeted 8.3 percent, compared with a national decline of 1.9 percent, according to a new report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Overall, New Mexico had 10,914 fewer students enrolled in its colleges and universities this spring when compared to last spring.

The second largest drop was Oklahoma, with 5.5 percent.

One reason for the large drop in enrollment in New Mexico is the decline in population among typical college-age residents.

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