As State Dollars Per Student Drops, Endowment Grows

As states from Florida to Alaska tighten their respective belts, funding for public colleges and universities nationwide is suffering. Arkansas, despite its relative financial health, is no exception.

 

Although the $23.08 million in state funds UAFS officials expect to receive for fiscal year 2012 is slightly up from last year’s $22.94 million, it represents a fourth consecutive annual decrease on a per-student basis.

 

In fact, state dollars per full-time-equivalent student have decreased at UAFS from a high of $5,113 in 2001 to less than $4,000 today. Adjusted for inflation, the decline has been even sharper.

 

At the same time, UAFS’s enrollment and operating expenses have steadily increased, meaning state appropriations cover an ever smaller portion of the University’s budget. In 2001, about 74 percent of operating revenues per student came from the state; in 2012, only about 40 percent will.

 

A tuition increase of approximately $175 per semester for the 2011-12 academic year will help offset the decline, but tuition and fees will still cover only about half of the budget.

 

Nonetheless, UAFS is thriving—not just enrolling more students, but offering more programs, recruiting stronger faculty, building better facilities, and enjoying a growing academic reputation.

 

That’s in large part the result of private support for the institution. In contrast to the dramatic decline in state dollars per student, the University’s endowment per student grew even more dramatically—up 54 percent from 2003 to 2010, even despite a 20 percent drop with the recession.