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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

Scoop: Inside the GOP's plan to retake the House

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Republicans will reclaim their majority in 2022 by offering candidates who are women, minorities or veterans, a memo obtained by Axios says.

Why it matters: The document, drafted by a super PAC blessed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, names top Democrats to target — Jared Golden of Maine, Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania and Ron Kind of Wisconsin — and the type of Republican candidates to beat them.

Scoop: Trump talked out of early Ohio endorsement

Jane Timken at a 2017 Trump rally. Photo: Kyle Mazza/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Donald Trump had to be talked out of making an early endorsement in Ohio's 2022 U.S. Senate race, a sign of his eagerness to reengage politically, people familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

What we're hearing: The former president discussed endorsing former state GOP chair Jane Timken last week during a meeting at Mar-a-Lago with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, but top advisers — including Donald Trump Jr. — urged him to wait.

Scoop: Parscale launches super PAC

Brad Parscale. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale has founded a new super PAC and sister advocacy group, public records show.

Why it matters: The groups will allow Parscale himself to back candidates aligned with Donald Trump ahead of the 2022 midterms. They could also be used to deploy his new political data firm and harvest vital voter information for other clients.