A new report from an eastern Iowa based research group shows public funding for higher education has dropped 40% in the past 12 years, after accounting for inflation. Andrew Cannon, who compiled the report for the Iowa Policy Project (IPP), and says tuition has increased 75% over the same time period.

“In 2000, student tuition and fees comprised just over a quarter of general revenue at each of Iowa’s three public universities. In (fiscal year) 2012, tuition and fees accounted for three-fifths of university revenues,” Cannon told reporters in a conference call today.

“The role of tuition versus state funding has completely flipped over the past decade or so.” The IPP report shows the Regents institutions’ share of overall state funding dropped to less than 9% in 2012, down from nearly 15% in 2000.

IPP Executive Director David Osterberg says higher education is critical to growing the state’s economy. “Our economy depends on having an educated work force and if we’re not going to spend any money, we’re going to have a harder time educating people,” Osterberg said. Cannon agreed.

“Affordable higher education has broad social and economic benefits. It seems lawmakers have lost sight of that in recent years,” Cannon said. Osterberg noted that current state funding to Iowa’s three public universities is nearly the same as it was in 1996.

“It’s so clear that there are more students and more expenses, so you can’t just give the same amount of money you gave 15 years ago and think that’s an adequate amount of spending,” Osterberg said. University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen today proposed a budget cutting plan that would eliminate 23 undergraduate majors and 16 graduate programs at U.N.I.

Cannon said the proposed changes at U.N.I. are an example of the options university administrators are facing in light of the decreased funds from the state. See the full IPP report here: IFP-regents PDF