[Excerpt] Public colleges and universities are in danger of losing their place as engines of social mobility and generators of knowledge. State appropriations to public colleges and universities, as a share of their overall budgets, have been shrinking since the 1980s even as enrollments have climbed. The resulting financial pressures have led to tuition hikes, cutbacks in the number of full-time and tenure-track faculty, reduced support for low- and middle-income students, and fewer subsidies for graduate students. Despite the widely acknowledged social good produced by public higher education, many policymakers hold to the view that the individual beneficiaries should pay more of its cost, especially now that the education-based income gap is widening. Decreased state funding also reflects policymakers’ assumption that forcing public institutions to behave more like private institutions, which have long competed for resources, will eliminate waste and boost efficiency.