Of the 21 million students in higher education in America, nearly 75 percent are in public institutions, roughly equally divided between two-year and four-year campuses. Although the total number of students grew steadily until three years ago, the distribution in public versus private, and two-year versus four-year, has stayed relatively steady over the past decade.
What hasn’t stayed steady is the level of state financial support for public institutions, and the level of regard the public at large has for its state institutions. These two factors are related, as I will demonstrate shortly.
First, a few facts: