States Give Slightly More Money to Higher Education, Raising Expectations

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In Tennessee's Capitol, lawmakers agreed to a plan to pay two years of community-college tuition for all high-school graduates in the state.

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In Tennessee's Capitol, lawmakers agreed to a plan to pay two years of community-college tuition for all high-school graduates in the state.

A new dynamic is emerging in many statehouses, where policy makers are debating not only how much money to appropriate for higher education but also what colleges should do to get that money.

That discussion may be a welcome change for public colleges, after the deep cuts of the recent economic downturn. With most legislatures having finished their 2014 sessions, next year’s state budgets are expected to increase, over all, for a fifth consecutive year, according to a report