Why Illinois Should Enhance its Investment in Higher Education
March 28, 2023
After adjusting for inflation, state funding for Illinois colleges and universities has fallen by nearly 50% since 2000, while tuition has more than doubled, making it increasingly difficult for students from low- and middle-income families generally, and Black and Latinx students specifically, to afford getting a higher education degree. Despite growing evidence that a college degree is more important than ever for success in the labor market and in spite of recent funding increases, the report finds that, after inflation, Illinois’ General Fund support for Higher Education has declined significantly over the last two decades, and is 46 percent less now in real terms than in 2000. To help make up for that loss of General Fund support, the average annual student tuition and fee cost of attending a public four-year university in Illinois increased by 115 percent—after inflation—between 2000 and 2021. This Report both documents the positive impact gaining a college education has on everything from wages, economic development, and community health and wellbeing, to social mobility, and calls upon the Illinois General Assembly to invest adequate resources in higher education.