Data reported by the states in the latest Grapevine survey indicate that initially approved state fiscal support for higher education nationwide increased by a modest 1.6 percent from fiscal 2016–2017 (fiscal 2017) to fiscal year 2017–2018 (fiscal 2018). This is the lowest annual percent increase in the past five years. Almost all of the increase between fiscal 2017 and fiscal 2018 was accounted for by appropriations in only three relatively large states: California, Florida, and Georgia. Total funding across the remaining 47 states rose by only 0.2 percent.

Jim Palmer, editor of the Grapevine and an Illinois State University professor, shared that the results of the survey this year reflect the struggle in many states to sustain the revenue needed to increase funding for colleges and universities: “It’s hard to be optimistic when we juxtapose the anemic growth in state funding this year against the background of an otherwise growing economy. How we reconcile the competing demands for education affordability on the one hand, and lower taxes on the other is probably the key challenge we face.”