Are you a fan of public higher education? Yes? Then prepare to be upset. Outraged even.
The chart below from the Center On Budget and Policy Priorities estimates how much each of the 50 states has slashed per-student funding for its university systems since the start of the recession, adjusted for inflation. In Arizona, where the cuts were the deepest, funding has been hacked in half. Nationwide, legislatures have sliced off 28 percent on average. Only two states -- Wyoming and oil-rich North Dakota -- have increased it, by the think tank's calculations.*
These cuts aren't the only reason the cost of a public education has jumped in the last several years, but they're an essential part of the story. As the CPBB notes, there have been some truly astronomical tuition increases since 2008 -- with the sticker price of school rising more than 50 percent in seven different states.
The states that slashed the most didn't necessarily hike the most. Some university systems chose to cope with leaner funding through cost savings -- perhaps at the expense of educational quality -- by thinning their number of faculty or combining programs. Other states, like Missouri, simply limit public colleges from raising tuition by more than a certain amount each year.