Annual Grapevine Compilation Shows Initial 6.6% Increase in State Support for Higher Education

Data reported by states in the latest Grapevine survey indicate that initially approved state support for higher education in fiscal year (FY) 2023 reached $112.3 billion, a 6.6% increase over 2022.[1] This is the second time that state fiscal support for all higher education has topped $100 billion. This increase reflects a 27.5% increase over the past five years. Tax appropriations, non-tax support, non-appropriated support, and returns from state funded endowments make up total state support. The Grapevine report provides a first, tentative look at state higher education funding in the new fiscal year. An important caveat is that the Grapevine data do not account for inflation.[2]

Although states allocated less federal funding to support higher education than in the previous two years, an additional $1.2 billion in federal stimulus funding brings the total state fiscal support for higher education in FY 2023 to $113.5 billion, a 5.3% increase over 2022.[3]  

Grapevine data are collected annually by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University. The FY 2023 data summarized online and in these tables represent initial allocations and estimates reported by the states from October 2022 through January 2023 and are subject to change. 

From 2022 to 2023, 14 states reported increases of more than 10% in state support for higher education, excluding federal stimulus funding. The states reporting these large increases are Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia. Five states, and Washington, D.C., had decreases in state support, excluding federal stimulus funding: Connecticut, Illinois,[4] Michigan, New Hampshire, and Texas.

Thirty-eight states saw overall increases in state and federal stimulus funding. Twelve states and Washington, D.C., reported an overall decline in state and federal stimulus funding between 2022 and 2023. The 12 states reporting declines are: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The decreases are caused by reductions in a combination of both federal stimulus and state support in most of the 12 states. However, Delaware, Georgia, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin saw increases in state support which were reversed by significant reductions in federal stimulus funding.

The Grapevine tables also include data on how total higher education state support allocations were used across two-year public operating, four-year public operating, state financial aid, research, and other uses for FY 2023. While state allocations across each area are not final and include estimates for several states, initial appropriations to each area were as follows:

  • $24 billion to two-year public operating (22.1% of state support).
  • $56 billion to four-year public operating (49.9%). 
  • $14.8 billion to state financial aid for all students (13.2%). 
  • $12.8 billion to research, agriculture extension, hospital extension and medical schools (11.4%).
  • $3.8 billion to other uses, including agency funding, private institution operations, and non-credit appropriations (3.4%). 

Longer-Term Trends

Longer-term trends in state support for higher education are positive. Excluding federal stimulus funding, state support has increased 16.4% nationally since 2021 and 27.5% since 2018. Note: These data do not account for the impact of inflation, which has risen substantially in recent years.[5]

Only two states, again excluding any federal stimulus funding, had lower state support in 2023 than in 2021 (Connecticut and Wyoming). Likewise, only two states had lower state support in 2023 than in 2018 (Alaska and Wyoming). While multiple-year declines in any state should be of concern, these state counts are relatively low compared to pre-pandemic years.

Federal Stimulus Funding

For the second year in a row, the Grapevine report includes tables on federal stimulus/relief allocations to states that were used for higher education. Funds awarded directly to higher education institutions from the federal government are not included. 

Across FY 2020-2023, states allocated $8.8 billion in federal stimulus support to higher education from the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the 2021 Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, and the 2021 American Rescue Plan (ARP). If including funds used for capital projects, that number jumps to $10.9 billion in federal stimulus support over the last four years. The full Grapevine report, including tables summarizing the results of the FY 2023 Grapevine survey and a complete dataset of state support for higher education going back to 1980, can be found on the SHEEO State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) website at https://shef.sheeo.org/grapevine.


[1] FY 2023 marks the seventh year Grapevine has included Washington, D.C., in its survey. Washington, D.C., is excluded from all state counts and U.S. totals. The data reported by the District of Columbia, including federal stimulus funding, reveal a 6.2% decline in the last year and a 19.7% decrease in the last two years, but a five-year increase of 42.5%.

[2] While actual inflation data are not available for FY 2023, forecasts suggest the U.S. will face 3.8% inflation over FY 2022. Source: OECD Economic Outlook: Statistics and Projections, Inflation Forecast Indicator https://data.oecd.org/price/inflation-forecast.htm.

[3] Federal stimulus funding was awarded to states for higher education to stabilize state and local sources of funding, and to provide additional resources during COVID-19. Federal stimulus funding excludes funds allocated to public capital projects and any funds (such as HEERF) allocated directly by the federal government to institutions or students.

[4] In Illinois, FY 2022 includes a one-time payment of $250 million to fully address the unfunded liability of the state’s prepaid tuition program, ensuring stability to the program. If this one-time payment were not included, the one-year change in Illinois’ state support would be a $236.1 million increase, or 4.6%.

[5] From December 2021 to December 2022, the Consumer Price Index increased 6.5%. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Economic News Release, Consumer Price Index Summary https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm.

SHEEO Job Posting: State Finance Policy Summer Internship

Remote / Boulder, Colorado

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) seeks candidates for a paid internship for the summer of 2023. This internship is appropriate for students pursuing graduate study in higher education, public policy, public administration, and related fields. The ideal candidate will be a motivated, active learner interested in higher education policy and governance, policy analysis, and research methods. We are particularly interested in diverse applicants with an interest in higher education finance.

Interns will provide support to SHEEO’s research, data, and policy analysis efforts as they relate to the State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) project, and may assist with a variety of projects depending on the intern’s skills and interests, and SHEEO’s needs. Interns will also have the opportunity to attend the SHEEO Higher Education Policy Conference in Denver, CO, which we plan to hold in-person from August 7-10, 2023. 

SHEEO seeks and strongly encourages individuals from historically underrepresented or marginalized groups to apply. The internship duration is flexible and will last for approximately eight to 12 weeks, beginning in May or early June. Interns may work remotely or in our Boulder, Colorado, office. A living stipend is available for those interested in relocating to Boulder for the summer. Interns are considered non-exempt employees and are paid $23 per hour and are expected to work approximately 20-37.5 hours per week, with schedules determined by mutual arrangement. 

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Collect and analyze qualitative and quantitative data related to state and federal higher education finance or financial aid programs.
  • Draft written materials including white papers, blog posts, memos, and issue briefs.
  • Construct datasets and create data visualizations.
  • Complete an independent research project using SHEEO data.

Qualifications and Experiences

SHEEO is seeking individuals with a combination the following backgrounds and qualifications: 

  • Currently enrolled in a graduate program in a related field, or completed a master’s degree in a related field within the last year. 
  • Completed graduated-level coursework in higher education, public policy, public administration, statistics, research methods, or a related field. 
  • Demonstrated interest in state or federal higher education finance. 
  • Enthusiasm for and curiosity about state higher education policy and evidence-informed policymaking. 
  • A commitment to advancing equity and student success in higher education. 
  • Experience working with large quantitative datasets, with knowledge of federal higher education datasets preferred. 
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite with advanced knowledge of Microsoft Excel. 
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.

Goals of the SHEEO State Policy Internship Program

Through its summer internship program, SHEEO hopes to diversify future higher education policy practitioners, analysts, and researchers by:

  • Advancing the involvement of traditionally underrepresented groups in higher education finance policy. 
  • Advancing equity and diversity in state higher education finance policy discussions. 
  • Increasing the skills and knowledge of those who aim to work within the state higher education finance  policy field. 
  • Increasing the interest of current graduate students in state higher education finance policy.

Application Process

The application deadline is February 27, 2023. Please apply through this website and include the following:

  1. A cover letter addressing the following questions:
    • Please describe any previous class, work, and/or outside research projects related to higher education finance policy.
    • What about higher education finance policy is of interest to you? 
  2. A resume or curriculum vitae.
  3. Names and contact information of three professional references. (References will not be contacted until you have given permission for us to do so.)

About SHEEO

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) serves the chief executives of statewide governing, policy, and coordinating boards of postsecondary education and their staffs. Founded in 1954, SHEEO promotes an environment that values higher education and its role in ensuring the equitable education of all Americans, regardless of race/ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic factors. Together with its members, SHEEO aims to achieve this vision by equipping state higher education executive officers and their staffs with the tools to effectively advance the value of higher education, promoting public policies and academic practices that enable all Americans to achieve success in the 21st century, and serving as an advocate for state higher education leadership. Read more about SHEEO on our website: www.sheeo.org.

SHEEO is committed to providing equal employment opportunities and believes that recruiting and developing a diverse and inclusive staff is vital to the success of the organization.  

SHEEO welcomes Alicia Engels as new director of events

Washington, D.C.—The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) welcomed Alicia Engels as its new director of events earlier this week. Engels will be a part of SHEEO’s Washington, D.C., office and will provide direction and oversight to help organize and implement SHEEO events, including the Annual Meeting, Higher Education Policy Conference, and Communities of Practice.

Before joining SHEEO, Engels served as the assistant director of Events, Conferences and Support Services at the University of Richmond (UR) in Richmond, Virginia. She developed and managed high profile university events such as commencement, family weekend, and student orientation. She also served as principal contact for all campus space reservations, resource scheduling, and event logistics. Engels was notably responsible for implementing the first large-scale event at UR within COVID protocol. Prior to her time at the university, she served as a recreation coordinator for Henrico County Recreation & Parks.

Engels holds a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from James Madison University. 

ABOUT THE STATE HIGHER EDUCATION EXECUTIVE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) is the national association of the chief executives of statewide governing, policy, and coordinating boards of postsecondary education. Founded in 1954, SHEEO serves its members as an advocate for state policy leadership, a liaison between states and the federal government, and a vehicle for learning from and collaborating with peers. SHEEO also serves as a manager of multistate teams and as a source of information and analysis on educational and public policy issues. Together with its members, SHEEO advances public policies and academic practices that enable Americans to attain education beyond high school and achieve success in the 21st-century economy.

Solicitation for Session Proposals for 2023 SHEEO Higher Education Policy Conference

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) is pleased to host the 2023 Higher Education Policy Conference in Denver, CO, August 7-10. 

The annual Policy Conference is the preeminent gathering of leaders from state higher education policy agencies, national higher education policy organizations, institutions, and state and federal governments. SHEEO seeks timely, thought-provoking proposals for sessions aligned with our organizational vision to promote an environment that values higher education and its role in ensuring equitable education for all, regardless of racial/ethnic, gender, or socioeconomic factors. Proposals are due March 3, 2023.

Learn more about the session proposals and how to submit yours at https://bit.ly/2023SHEEOPolicyRFP.

For information about the upcoming conference, visit https://sheeo.org/event/2023-sheeo-policy-conference/.

New SHEEO Report Details Top Policy Priorities for State Higher Education Leaders Across the Country

Washington, D.C.—In a survey distributed following the 2022 midterm elections, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) asked state higher education leaders about their top policy issues going into 2023. States face a multitude of higher education policy issues each year, with some topics consistently among the top priorities for policymakers while others represent emerging public policy concerns driven by the current higher education landscape. SHEEO’s new report details the top 10 state policy priorities for 2023 according to state higher education leaders. The report also includes additional rising issues—topics consistently making headlines and generating important conversations among the higher education community. 

Economic and workforce development, along with the related issue of the K-12 teacher workforce, tied for the top two state policy priorities of SHEEOs. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the landscape for workforce development, exacerbating many existing workforce shortages. SHEEOs noted significant unmet labor market demands in their states and the need for public higher education to demonstrate its value to stakeholders by meeting state workforce needs. On the teacher workforce, SHEEOs stressed the importance of high-quality K-12 teachers to student success, expressed their concerns over teacher shortages, and cited low pay, a lack of respect for the profession, and political agendas as contributing factors to the teacher shortage.  

Rounding out the top five priorities are (3) state funding for financial aid programs, (4) state operating support for public colleges and universities, and (5) higher education’s value proposition. Other issues include declining enrollment and college affordability, tied for sixth, (8) public perception of higher education, (9) addressing equity gaps, and (10) college completion/student success. Rising issues outlined in the report include a focus on student health and safety and student basic needs, like food, housing, and childcare. 

“While survey results and the top issues are not necessarily surprising, the state budget surpluses provide lawmakers with an opportunity to invest in higher education’s capacity to address workforce needs and grow the economy,” said Tom Harnisch, SHEEO’s vice president for government relations. 

The 2023 legislative sessions present a unique opportunity for states to address many of the top issues outlined in the survey results. While not an exhaustive list, also included in the report are several examples of how states have implemented policies and programs that other states could consider replicating to tackle many of these issues.The full State Priorities for Higher Education in 2023: Survey of SHEEOs report can be found in the report at: https://sheeo.org/policy-issue-survey/.