How the U.S. Supports Higher Education

Research and analysis on state and federal policies to aid students, families, and institutions

Higher Education Spending
Last Updated May 18, 2020
Higher Education
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The federal government and the states provide substantial resources for higher education, through direct spending and tax provisions that reduce revenue. This collection of resources explores how postsecondary education is funded at both levels of government and how that support varies by state.

Issue Brief

Two Decades of Change in Federal and State Higher Education Funding

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Issue Brief

States and the federal government have long provided substantial financial support for higher education, but in recent years, their respective levels of contribution have shifted significantly.


Supporting Higher Education Through the Tax Code

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To maximize the impact of higher education investments and achieve desired policy goals, policymaker should have knowledge of the full range of assistance provided to institutions and students. This means having an understanding of the billions of dollars made available through spending programs and the tax code.

Additional Resources


States of Innovation

The front facade of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, DC.

Agenda for America

A collection of resources to help federal, state, and local decision-makers set an achievable agenda for all Americans

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Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for emerging challenges, it makes government more effective and better able to serve the public interest. In the coming months, President Joe Biden and the 117th Congress will tackle a number of environmental, health, public safety, and fiscal and economic issues—nearly all of them complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To help solve specific, systemic problems in a nonpartisan fashion, Pew has compiled a series of briefings and recommendations based on our research, technical assistance, and advocacy work across America.

For the first time in at least two decades, federal funding for higher education surpassed state funding in 2010. Learn More