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The state college conundrum

Add another twist to the perfect storm buffeting higher education: just as state colleges and universities find themselves more in demand than ever by cash-strapped students and employees looking to gain a leg up in the workforce, state budget deficits are forcing many states to reduce their public higher education expenditures, resulting in markedly higher tuition and fees. It’s a classic catch-22.

According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, at least 20 states have made cuts to their public university budgets or are planning large tuition increases. And according to the Director of the State Fiscal Project at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, at least three-quarters of the states are showing fiscal problems for 2009 or 2010. Couple this with the tight availability of credit and the record number of high school seniors expected to apply to college next year, and it’s drama in the making.

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