A study produced by the Illinois State University Center for the Study of Education Policy showed that 31 states increased spending on higher education during the 2013 fiscal year, Inside Higher Ed reported. Overall spending on higher education decreased by 0.4 percent, an improvement from last year's decrease of 7.5 percent. States are likely to expand education funding in the coming years as the effects of the recession decrease, and the governors of California, Colorado, Nebraska and Nevada have pledged to increase funding in their states. A recent report by Demos, a think tank, found that economic factors, rather than political and cultural factors, influence how much states appropriate for higher education. Education spending also varies from state to state, and those that have experienced recent increases in their reserve of natural resources are appropriating larger portions of their budget toward higher education.
A growing number of PhD recipients are choosing to work as independent scholars unaffiliated with a specific university, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. While independent scholars have more freedom in their research and daily life, remaining unattached to a university yields financial restrictions that can limit the scholar's academic pursuits. Many independent scholars work second jobs in addition to performing research, and often have difficulty accessing research materials and attending conferences. The annual salary of an independent scholar can vary from $20,000 to $50,000, according to Thomas Ernst, an independent linguistic scholar. The National Coalition of Independent Scholars and the Ronin Institute provide support to independent scholars by giving them an organizational affiliation, the Chronicle reported.
A report commissioned by the American Council of Education found that enrollment of "post-traditional" students has shifted in higher education, Inside Higher Ed reported. Post-traditional students, adults between the ages of 25 and 64 seeking college degrees, now comprise a large population of students but tend to graduate at lower rates than traditional college students. The discrepancy between the graduation rates of traditional and post-traditional students exists because older students often have rusty study skills and less scheduling flexibility. The report suggests that colleges must be more flexible when accommodating to the older students' educational needs.