Tuition pays for only a portion of the total cost of educating students. The difference between what is spent (institutional cost) and the amount of cost covered by tuition revenue (price) is made up from a general subsidy paid by the institution. For almost all U.S. universities, this subsidy comes from three sources: government appropriations (state and local), gifts and endowments. For public universities like UNO, state appropriations are a key source of revenues for student support. At the institutional level, governing boards and campus leadership can use the measure to assess revenue trends for their institution in comparison to peers, and to develop fund-raising plans that meet educational needs. At the state and federal levels, this measure can help policymakers focus on what revenues are available for core purposes, as opposed to those that are targeted to specific activities. In public higher education, prices are increasing, costs are remaining fairly steady, and subsidies are declining. UNO’s 2010 state and local revenues per FTE student are below 2004 levels, reflecting fiscal belt-tightening for higher education in Nebraska. Looking at the 2004-2009 trend line, state and local revenues per FTE student have been flat. The result is that the state appropriation subsidy for higher education degree production has declined in the face of increasing costs and demand. As shown in accompanying charts, FTE enrollments have increased slightly and costs have increased. As a result, reliance on tuition is increasing.
Definitions: Total State and Local Appropriations: The total amount of revenue from state and local appropriations. State appropriations are revenues received by the institution through acts of a state legislative body (except grants and contracts and capital appropriations). Funds reported in this category are for meeting current operating expenses, not for specific projects or programs. Local appropriations are revenues from appropriations by a governmental entity below the state level. (Also included are revenues from education district taxes, where taxes are assessed directly by an institution or on behalf of an institution and the institution receives the exact amount collected; revenues from sales taxes, gambling taxes, etc.; and/or other revenues from other sources approved by referendum).
Sources: UNO and CUMU peer institution trend data downloaded from Trends in College Spending online, a service of the Delta Project on Postsecondary Costs, Productivity and Accountability. All Delta Project Data are based on data reported annually by U.S. colleges and universities through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. UNO 2010 data updated by UNO Office of Institutional Research using Delta Project methods.