The 2018 SHEF report examines the trends, context, and consequences of state higher education funding decisions.
For sixteen years, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) has produced the annual State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) report to broaden understanding and enable analysis of state-level and national funding and enrollment trends over time. The SHEF report provides the earliest possible review of state funding for higher education for the most recently completed fiscal year. SHEF also includes a robust data set for fiscal years 1980-2019 with detailed data on state and local funding, tuition revenue, and enrollment, with interactive data visualization materials. An early look at the state support for 2019 is available in the Grapevine data compilation.
In late 2018, SHEEO began a two-year grant-funded project to improve the SHEF report. This project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Explore the Report
Key findings for fiscal year 2018 include:
HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING IS STABILIZING: Nationally, state and local per student support for higher education increased at the rate of inflation from 2017 to 2018. This minimal growth follows a five-year period of annual funding increases greater than 2 percent, indicating that state appropriations have stabilized, albeit at a much lower level.
STUDENT SHARE IS THE NEW NORM: For the first time since the Great Recession, net tuition revenue remained flat in 2018, indicating that the growing reliance on net tuition as a revenue source—the student share—might be leveling. While tuition revenue measures more than just rate increases, flat tuition revenue may be a sign of the impacts of increasing attention on college affordability
GOOD NEWS FOR STATE FINANCIAL AID: In 2018, state financial aid saw the largest increase since the Great Recession. Financial aid now represents nearly 10 percent of all appropriations, and encouragingly, evidence shows that states largely protect this source of support during economic downturns.
ENROLLMENT DECLINES ARE SLOWING DOWN: Fewer students continued to enroll in higher education than during the peak recession years, but there was little year-to-year change from 2017 to 2018, a trend further suggesting stabilization in the state higher education landscape. Student enrollment skyrocketed during the Great Recession and has steadily declined over the last few years of recovery
Project Contact: Sophia Laderman, senior policy analyst