Commentary: New Mexico made some of the deepest cuts in the nation to its public colleges and universities, leading to tuition increases that have students struggling to afford school. Between 2008 and 2018 New Mexico cut state support by $4,030 per student (when adjusted for inflation) – the third deepest cuts per-student of state support in the nation. That’s according to a report released today by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
New Mexico is one of 19 states that cut funding for public colleges and universities by more than 20 percent per student between 2008 and 2018. New Mexico cut per-student spending by 28.8 percent, or $4,030 – outpacing the national average decline of 13 percent or $1,220 per student.
“Making a college degree less attainable is not the way to develop our workforce and attract high-paying jobs to the state,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children. “Fortunately, the legislature and the new administration have halted this trend and the governor has called for much more support for New Mexico’s college students. Still, it’s important to understand how much ground we need to make up.”
Spending cuts during the recession helped drive up the cost of public colleges and universities. New Mexico, which saw an average tuition increase of 38.7 percent, is one of 21 states where tuition grew by more than 40 percent between 2008 and 2018. Tuition increases imposed the greatest cost burden on families of color and those with low incomes.
New Mexico’s growing price of tuition is highest for black and Hispanic families
The average price of tuition in 2017 represented:
· 31 percent of black median household incomes
· 27 percent of Hispanic median household incomes
· 19 percent of white median household incomes
Higher tuition prices can dissuade students from enrolling in college and reduce campus diversity, especially among students from households with low incomes.
The report recommends that New Mexico increase the skills and diversity of its workforce, and dramatically improve the future of its children and communities, by increasing the share of state financial aid that is awarded on the basis of need rather than merit and by ensuring that resources go to the schools with the greatest need.
“Investing in our colleges and universities would help students in New Mexico gain the skills they need to succeed in our 21st century economy and help their communities thrive,” said Jimenez.