This brief reviews both the empirical evidence and the reasoning behind differing views of the relationship between changes in state appropriations for higher education and changes in public university tuition and expenditures. We conclude that the weight of evidence indicates that appropriation changes have a significant impact on tuition decisions. However, the size of the response varies across types of institutions, depending on their pool of applicants and available options for responding to appropriation changes. Moreover, the overall relationship is not as strong as many people suppose.
This brief was updated in March 2018 to reflect a change in how we compare the five studies we discuss in the second full paragraph on page 16.