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18 of 45 States Have Made Mid-Year Cuts In College Budgets

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Public higher-education institutions in more than a third of the states have endured mid-year budget cuts during the current fiscal year, according to a new survey.

In its annual report on state higher-education funding, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities found that 18 of 45 states had trimmed their postsecondary budgets in fiscal 1993 by an average of 2.77 percent.

The figures were better than last year, however, when 22 states cut funding by an average of 4.16 percent.

"It does appear that we're getting more stability in state funding and that matches anecdotal evidence I get from talking to [college and university] presidents around the country,'' said James F. Appleberry, the president of AASCU.

Mr. Appleberry noted that some states, such as Massachusetts, boosted higher-education spending this year for the first time in several years.

But he also argued that the fact that the mid-year cuts were less severe this year does not necessarily augur a brighter future for higher-education funding.

"I don't think we're ever going to be at the point where we were'' in the early 1980's, he said, because of the continuing fiscal problems of numerous states.

Moreover, the survey found that, once the mid-year cuts were taken into account, the total increase in spending between fiscal 1992 and 1993 was only 1.23 percent. Between 1991 and 1992, the average increase was 1.39 percent.

Between fiscal 1990 and 1993, a total of $1.83 billion has been excised from higher-education budgets as a result of mid-year cuts, the report indicates. State higher-education budgets have fallen $5.41 billion below the amount needed to keep pace with inflation during those years, it estimates.

To cope, colleges and universities have been cutting programs, reducing staff, and raising tuition, the report says. State-based student-aid grants rose by 3.9 percent between the fall of 1990 and the fall of 1991, according to the report, while tuition increased 13.6 percent.

The report is expected to be released this week--M.P.

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