Online Degrees: States Face Budget Cuts for Higher Education

Budget cuts may hinder the progress of students who may be looking to go to school in the fall and earn their associates or bachelors degrees. Many schools will be facing furloughs and a lower number of classes to accommodate smaller budgets.

A few weeks after wrapping up their budgets for the new fiscal year, lawmakers in some states already expect a new round of spending cuts, including to higher education, as tax revenues continue to fall.

Estimates of states' revenue shortfalls have grown worse since the spring, reaching a total of nearly $143-billion when most states began the 2010 fiscal year, on July 1, according to a survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures. But at least 11 states are already expecting to make midyear cuts, totaling more than $22-billion, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an advocacy group.

The midyear cuts being considered in these states and others are signs that the nearly $40-billion in federal-stimulus money meant to shore up education budgets for the current fiscal year may no longer be enough. While the stimulus effort was meant to help states keep spending on education at or above 2007-8 or 2008-9 levels, more than two-thirds of the states are already below that guideline. Most have set spending for public colleges and schools at amounts that are closer to 2005-6 levels, a minimum that the federal stimulus law requires for states that want to qualify for the fiscal-stabilization money.

Earning an online degree in this economic climate is almost necessary when it comes to getting the best jobs. With many states across the U.S. experiencing budget shortfalls, students who choose to earn their associates degree online, or bachelors degree online will have the best options.

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