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A college education in the U.S. has become virtually impossible for the average American to afford without state or federal loans, grants, scholarships or support from family members. Meanwhile, tuition continues to increase, and the student's share of the cost has grown.

Expand chart
Note: State spending represents appropriations for higher education in each state per student enrolled full-time in a public university; The student share is net tuition as a proportion of total higher education revenues; Data for Illinois is not available and is not included the U.S. average; Dollar amounts are adjusted for inflation; Data: State Higher Education Executive Officers Association; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios
The big picture

While there are some states that have actually cut their funding for state universities, The Chronicle of Higher Education's senior reporter Eric Kelderman told Axios that enrollment numbers are a big factor in the decreasing funding-per-student data — the more students there are, the less funding there is to go around.

The facts
  • While there has been a state spending-per-student decrease over the years, the past 4-5 years has seen a slight increase.
  • Between 2000 and 2011, college enrollment skyrocketed. But enrollment has dwindled over the past 4-5 years.
  • The national student debt is now more than $1.4 trillion, according to the Student Loan Report.
  • The average annual college tuition (including fees and room and board) for a four-year, in-state, public university is $20,770, according to CollegeBoard, a 3.2% increase over last year.
  • The average debt per student is $27,857.
The politics

Republican House members are proposing a sweeping higher education reform bill next week, which in part aims to fix this problem by capping federal student loans and incentivizing universities to ensure their students succeed post-graduation. Meanwhile, Democrats advocate for solutions like loan forgiveness or free college — as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders often campaigned on in 2016.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.

Updated 8 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.