(05/03/2014)
West Virginia is a state with one of the lowest college-going rates in the USA.

While almost every state in the country slashed spending on higher education during the recent recession, West Virginia is one of the only states continuing to cut funding to its public colleges and universities, according to a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

From last fiscal year to this fiscal year, West Virginia cut more in state funding for higher education than any other state besides Wyoming, the report says.

The report found that tuition in West Virginia has risen by more than 26 percent since 2008.

After adjusting for inflation, West Virginia cut spending on higher education by 4.7 percent per student, or about $330 per student, the report found.

“States have cut higher education funding deeply since the start of the recession,” the report’s authors wrote. “To compensate for lost state funding, public colleges have both steeply increased tuition and pared back spending, often in ways that may compromise the quality of the education and jeopardize student outcomes.”

This year’s budget included cuts of 7.5 percent for most state agencies, including higher education.

Next year’s budget will cut higher education by 3.75 percent, which amounts to about a $14 million cut.

Although it is now lagging behind national averages, West Virginia made it through much of the recession without cutting spending as drastically as most other states.

As the recession made jobs tougher to find, more people across the country enrolled in college. In West Virginia, enrollment jumped 25 percent from 2007 to 2008.

More recently, enrollment has slowed down. Nine of West Virginia’s 12 public four-year colleges had lower enrollment in 2013 than they did in 2009.

Still, a college education in West Virginia is among the most affordable in the nation, the result of a combination of low tuition rates and strong offerings of merit- and need-based financial aid programs.


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