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Disinvestment in Higher Education in Illinois

Are you interested in learning more about disinvestment in Illinois higher education and its various impacts? 

This is the first in a series of blogs that will direct you to some of the sources for the presentation which leaders from the IEA Higher Education Council have been giving to region councils and other groups.

This installment provides the scope of disinvestment and the broad impact this has had on public higher education in Illinois.


The CTBA Report of 2017

Shocked by the economic loss resulting from the steady and significant state disinvestment in higher education discussed at a workshop at the 2017 IEA Representative Assembly, members of the IEA Higher Education Council launched an education effort.  This started with the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA) Director Ralph Martire sharing his research with the IEA Board of Directors in May 2017: 

This CTBA report  lays out the significant (50%) cuts from 2000 to 2016 and the disastrous cuts (more than $2 billion) in 2016 and 2017. Here’s a key chart from that report:


The CTBA report also reports that every dollar cut from higher education spending results in a loss to the state economy of $2.29. A future blog post will examine the general economic impact of higher education spending.

A few newspaper articles from 2017

If you have a limited amount of time to devote to reading up on this, there are several articles from Springfield and Chicago newspapers which illustrate the scope and impact:

Digging Deeper:  A few more studies

The Manzo editorial mentioned above is based on a study (one of a couple good ones) by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute.  Published in September 2017 and co-authored by Frank Manzo IV, the institute's policy director, and Robert Bruno, director of the University of Illinois' Labor Education Program, “High-Impact Higher Education:  Understanding the Costs of the Recent Budget Impasse in Illinois” (https://illinoisepi.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/ilepi-pmcr-high-impact-higher-education.pdf )
provides the details and research to back up blurbs like this one in Manzo’s State Journal-Register editorial:  

Illinois' two-year state budget impasse and corresponding cuts to public colleges and universities cost 7,500 jobs, and more than $1 billion in economic output annually. In-state student tuition rose an average of 7 percent — nearly $1,000 — and schools enrolled about 72,000 fewer students.

Putting Illinois’ situation in context, a couple of articles by William Zumeta appearing in NEA’s Higher Ed Almanac, discuss the funding trends for higher education across all the states and puts Illinois in a pretty dire light:


For example, Zumeta (2018) looked at how state funding for higher education has rebounded after the recession in most states (after suffering significant cuts DURING the recession).  In Illinois, however, even with the budget deal of 2017, it’s stayed essentially flat.  

  • The percentage increase from FY 2013 to FY 2018 in Illinois was 1.2%.  
  • The overall percentage increase across the 50 states was 20.7%
  • In California, the increase was 52.5%; in Oregon, it was 48%.  
  • Even among our neighboring states, the increases were much more substantial:  29.7% in Wisconsin, 13.9% in Indiana, 6.2% in Missouri.  Even Michigan had a 19.2% increase.
  • Only two of our neighbors come close to the pathetic showing of Illinois:  Iowa had a 3.6% increase and Kentucky had a 1.2% decrease


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