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Useful Stats: Federal Obligations for Science & Engineering to Universities and Colleges

December 18, 2014

A total of $30.8 billion for science and engineering (S&E) was given by federal agencies to 1,073 academic institutions across the United States in FY 2012, according to new research from the National Science Foundation. Although these obligations are 2 percent less than they were the year before, commitments to science and engineering increased more than 9 percent from 2007 to 2012. During that same time, per capita commitments to academic S&E decreased 7 percent. Generally, states clustered on the West Coast and in the Northeast received the most money per capita for S&E at colleges and universities. 

Nine states received more than $1 billion from federal agencies for S&E at academic institutions, combining to represent 57 percent of the total amount allocated. Unsurprisingly, highly populated states with legacies of strong higher education received the most money for S&E, led by California ($4.2 billion). New York ($2.35 billion), Maryland ($2.1 billion), Pennsylvania ($1.88 billion), and Massachusetts ($1.73 billion) all received considerable amounts of funding as well. Three sparsely populated states – Wyoming ($32 million), South Dakota ($45.2 million), and Maine ($45.5 million) – were the only states to receive less than $50 million for S&E at colleges and universities.

States in the Northeast attract far more dollars per person for S&E at academic institutions than other regions. In total, 20 states received more than $100 per person for S&E at academic institutions and the top six are in the Northeast: District of Columbia ($687 per person), Maryland ($359), Massachusetts ($261), Connecticut ($153), Pennsylvania ($148), and Rhode Island ($137).  These states have small populations but many reputable research universities and colleges.

In the District of Columbia, per capita obligations for S&E to universities and colleges increased 75 percent from 2007 to 2012. An analysis of the 100 universities and colleges receiving the largest amounts, which can be found here, finds that a significant portion of this growth stems from the Consortium of Ocean Leadership. In 2007, the Consortium received just $9.7 million in federal funds for science and engineering, an amount that more than quadrupled in 2008. By 2012, however, they received $188.8 million in federal funds for S&E. Unlike many of the traditional universities, colleges, and medical schools that populate the top 100 list, the Consortium of Ocean Leadership is a nonprofit that serves as a representative of more than 100 other public and private ocean research education institutions. The Consortium is also responsible with managing ocean research and education programs, with an emphasis on ocean drilling, exploration, observation, and partnerships.  

Other states that saw a large increase in per capita funding for science and engineering to universities include Georgia (37.7 percent), Maryland (24 percent), and Arizona (23 percent).  Johns Hopkins University, located in Maryland, is by far the largest recipient of federal obligations for S&E. Johns Hopkins received more than $1.6 billion in federal obligations for S&E in 2012, nearly $900 million more than the second place university, the University of Washington.

In total, 23 states saw a decrease in per capita funding to S&E at academic institutions from 2007 to 2012.  Mississippi (-35.4 percent) and Nevada (-34.5 percent) experienced the largest decreases in per capita funding, followed by Louisiana (-24.5 percent), North Dakota (-22.2 percent). Seven additional states experienced decreases larger than 10 percent.

In addition to their data release, NSF also published an InfoBrief that describes the information with a focus on minority-serving institutions. In 2012, 87 of 383 High-Hispanic-enrollment (HHE) institutions received $524.7 million for S&E, a 26 percent increase over FY 2011 levels. 90 of the top 105 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) received $400.3 million in federal academic S&E obligations, a decrease of 10 percent from the year before. Similarly, 32 tribal colleges and universities received $32 million in federal academic S&E obligations, a 9 percent decrease from FY 2011.

SSTI has collected the available state-level data on total funds committed by the federal government for science and engineering at universities and colleges at the aggregate and per capita levels from 2007 to 2012.



useful stats, r&d, higher edFile 121814.xlsx