If past recessions are any guide, the economic challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic will  likely accelerate the major shift in government support for higher education that has been playing out over the past two decades. Overall, state dollars for colleges, universities, and students have fallen since 2000 while federal funding has risen, after adjusting for enrollment changes and inflation. But there is a great deal of uncertainty, and the actions of both state and federal policymakers will shape the amount and type of public support for students and institutions going forward.

Among the key factors:  

Higher education frequently bears the brunt of state cuts in downturns, but the level of cutbacks will depend on the size of state budget gaps and choices by

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