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Arizona Leads the Nation in Higher Ed Budget Cuts Since the Great Recession

Mark Henle/The Republic

A recent report shows Arizona leading the nation in cuts to higher education since the Great Recession. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the study comes just months after the state trimmed nearly $100 million from its three public universities.

According to the Washington D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, funding to higher education in Arizona has declined by nearly 50 percent since 2008. At the same time, university tuition has increased by more than 80 percent, representing an almost $5,000 spike per student since the recession.

The study doesn’t take in account the most recent round of state budget cuts, including a more than $17 million hit for Northern Arizona University alone. Last week, the Arizona Board of Regents signed off on a tuition increase for incoming freshmen, pushing NAU’s in-state costs to more than $10,000 per year.

Gov. Doug Ducey along with many state lawmakers say the university cuts were necessary to help counter the state’s $1.5 billion budget shortfall. 

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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