UH students' tuition share among lowest in nation
Students pay about 20 percent of the cost of their education, an annual report finds
Tuition accounted for just more than 20 percent of the cost per student in Hawaii's public community colleges and universities last year, the sixth-lowest percentage in the nation, according to a report released today.
The annual report, from the State Higher Education Executive Officers, tracks state spending, tuition and enrollment in public higher-education institutions.
The report shows tuition in Hawaii is still significantly below the national average even though the 2005-2006 school year was the first year of a significant six-year tuition increase at University of Hawaii campuses.
Over the next five years, more of the cost of higher education will be borne by students, said Linda Johnsrud, UH vice president for policy and planning.
Currently, students at UH-Manoa pay about 30 percent of the cost of their education, while students at community colleges pay about 14 percent of the cost.
At the end of the tuition increase, UH-Manoa students will pay about 45 percent of the cost of their education, and community-college tuition will account for about 20 percent of the total cost.
The report showed that last year, the cost of a college education per full-time student was about $10,239, compared with the U.S. average of $9,891. Students paid an average of about $2,053 of that amount, and $8,186 came from state taxpayers.
Another way to look at it is that about 93 cents per $100 of personal income goes to higher education, or about $359 per resident.
"Who should pay for higher education? Is it the individual or is it society?" Johnsrud said. "That's the debate."
Individual students should see higher earnings if they get a college degree. But the state also benefits from a well-educated work force, Johnsrud said.
Affordable tuition and/or significant financial aid are also factors in whether students go to college, Johnsrud noted.
Tracking changes in state support of higher education, the State Higher Education Executive Officers report shows enrollment at public colleges and universities grew rapidly between 2001 and 2005 across the country, but state support failed to keep pace.
Hawaii was one of only five states that saw state support of higher education increase over the last five years. Nationally, state support of higher education declined by an average of 14.2 percent.
Over the past 35 years, state support for higher education decreased during recessions and increased shortly afterward.
Hawaii's state spending pattern seems to reflect that, said Paul Lingenfelter, president of State Higher Education Executive Officers.
The peak state support for higher education was in 1990, when taxpayers paid about $14,307 in inflation-adjusted dollars per college student.
During the 1990s, when the state went into recession, funding declined.
Funding has been increasing over the last several years but still has not reached the same levels, Lingenfelter said. "It used to be a lot better," he said.