Higher education cuts are undermining Alabama’s future

Shortchanging higher education is shortchanging Alabama’s future. It’s a harmful choice that’s limiting opportunity for people across our state. But better policy choices can create a more prosperous future and help all Alabamians reach their full potential.

Alabama has slashed its per-student state higher education funding more than any other state over the last decade, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Since 2008, Alabama has cut higher ed funding by 36.2%, or $4,466 per student, CBPP found. Those cuts are the nation’s worst by dollar amount and third worst by percentage.

“We are dissuading folks from pursuing their dreams,” I told WBHM reporter Janae Pierre last week. “We’re reducing campus diversity, and we’re reducing opportunity for people to get ahead and build a better life for themselves and their families.”

With state funding down, tuition has soared. Between 2008 and 2018, the average tuition at public four-year institutions in Alabama jumped by 72.9%. These massive increases have erected barriers to opportunity for people across Alabama. And these barriers disproportionately block the paths of black and Latino students.

As I told WBHM: “We are asking an entire generation of folks to take on massive debt to begin their careers, to pursue their professional dreams. … Either people aren’t able to pursue the degree in the first place or they have to begin their career with five- or six-figure debt hanging over their head.”

Check out Alabama Arise’s news release for more information on the CBPP report. And check out my full interview with WBHM for more on how Alabama can help make college accessible and affordable for everyone, regardless of income.