My parents both benefitted from an affordable high quality in-state higher education. Like my parents, I also benefitted from this attending James Madison University from 1989-1993.
First, today's General Fund inflation-adjusted appropriations for UVA is less than 50% what it was in 1989. The Commonwealth is investing $7,657 per student at UVA as compared with $16,846 per student when I attended college.
Second, if you compare the UVA General Fund appropriation from 1989 and apply the rate of inflation to it, it has gone from around $120 million down to approximately $105 million.
You can see from the chart that this trend began when I was in college - I really remember it. Right after I started at JMU, a recession hit and Governor Wilder insisted that he was going to balance the state budget without raising taxes (he was also talking about running for President). Higher education was one of the first thigns to be cut. You can see there was a slight recovery in 2001, but then things fell off the charts in 2001 after control of the General Assembly changed hands.
This has also impacted Virginia relative to the rest of the United States. Most people think that Virginia's higher education system ranks well with other states because of our high quality institutions.
This chart to the left shows that Virginia now ranks 40th in state appropriations per Full Time Student. We have the 9th highest per capita income in the United States and we 40th in higher education investments.
Universities have been left to made up this massive revenue shortfall with out-of-state students, and many have tried to shift the blame for the lack of spots at good universities on these schools.
After looking at these numbers, it is pretty clear where the blame lies.