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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

Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.

Updated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — The recovery needs rocket fuel.
  2. Health: CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use" — Death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased testing can reduce transmission.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Cities: Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order ahead of state mandate
  5. Vaccine: What vaccine trials still need to do.
  6. World: UN warns "2021 is literally going to be catastrophic"
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the vaccine approval process.
2 hours ago - Health

Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order ahead of state mandate

Golden Gate Park. Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty

Counties around the San Francisco Bay Area will adopt California’s new regional stay-at-home order amid surges in cases and ICU hospitalizations, health officials said Friday.

The big picture: California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a three-week stay-at-home order on Thursday that would go into effect in regions with less than 15% ICU capacity. Despite the Bay Area’s current 25.3% ICU capacity, health officials from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and the city of Berkeley are moving ahead with a shelter-in-place mandate in the hopes of reducing risk.