Higher education enjoys an important good-faith partnership with the Utah Legislature and the Governor. Their support of higher education, especially during the challenging fiscal times of the Great Recession, has helped keep college in Utah much more affordable than current national trends. USHE institutions have also worked prudently to keep necessary tuition increases at a minimum.
Utah’s public universities stand out as highly efficient institutions:
- Tuition at Utah’s public colleges and universities is the third lowest in the nation.
- Utah ranks 45th among the states in the percentage of its college students who accrue debt
- Student loan debt ranks 44th among the states with an average $21,520 per student who takes a loan, substantially less than the national average of $29,400.
- Utah’s public institutions are efficient: the state ranks 2nd in the number of degrees awarded per $100,000 spent.
At the September Executive Appropriations Committee, the office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst presented some important information regarding the relationship between state funding for higher education and tuition. The report highlighted the complexity of balancing state-funded support for higher education with tuition paid by students.
Undoubtedly, it costs more to educate today’s college student than it did 15 years ago. However, as some reports indicate, the actual cost for students have not increased as much as one might think. The costs associated to provide a quality experience for today’s college students are complex. Just like other economic sectors, fundamental costs such as healthcare, utilities, and transportation have driven up the cost to do business. In addition, technological innovations in the classroom and student services have expanded and are expected by students. Finally, the cost required to train future employees for today’s high-tech, high-demand STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) industries are expensive and personnel-intensive.
A well-educated population is critical to the state’s economy and the individuals who live here. Utah is fortunate to have strong legislative and gubernatorial support for higher education. Last year’s support for specific acute funding equity needs in higher education are a good example of the good faith partnership that helps hold the line of college costs.