According to a recent study by Pew Charitable Trusts, higher education is typically the third largest item in state general fund budgets. While this is one area of public spending Rhode Island does not top national charts, public higher education accounts for $1 billion of the state’s $8.7 billion budget– nearly matching elementary and secondary education and more than doubling transportation spending.
That figure includes tuition and other revenue sources, so when budget season comes around, leaders of public higher ed annually assert that Rhode Island lags the nation in taxpayer “investment” in their organizations. One of Pew’s charts puts Rhode Island eighth from the bottom in per student funding, and the state portion of the columns appears small relative to other states.
The bill is still massive, though.