School Zone Blog: How Michigan Compares to Other States on Higher-ed Spending

School Zone Blog: How Michigan Compares to Other States on Higher-ed Spending
December 10, 2010/Kalamazoo Gazette

By Julie Mack

Michigan spends about $1.8 billion a year on higher education, compared to $3.5 billion in North Carolina,  $2.3 billion in Georgia, $2.1 billion in New Jersey and $1.9 billion in Virginia -- all states with smaller populations than here.

That was my take-away from today's report from the New America Foundation,  nonpartisan think-tank. The policy brief analyzes use of federal stimulus funds in higher education -- specifically, the use of state fiscal stablization funds. As opposed to money given directly to universities for research projects, this was the money given to state governments to plug holes in their education budgets, both for K-12 and higher ed.

The report's conclusion -- "Education Stabilization funds appear to have played a significant role in higher education spending in a number of states, likely supporting higher education services while many other government services were being cut" -- was pretty blah. But what did catch my eye was the state-by-state comparisons on overall higher-ed spending.

Incidentally, a report from Michigan's Senate Fiscal Agency that was updated in October 2010 pegs the state's 2010-11 higher-ed spending at $1.6 billion, which doesn't include community colleges. That same report show how state funding for universites has been dropping over the past decade;the funding level in 2000 was $1.9 billion.

Meanwhile, as higher-ed funding has fallen, Michigan college enrollment is rising. Current enrollment in Michigan's 15 state universities is 302,023, compared to 282,269 in fall 2001, up 7 percent this decade.

 Julie Mack is a reporter for the Kalamazoo Gazette. Contact her at or (269) 388-8578, or follow her on at Her blog is School Zone.