> defunded higher ed
I am unaware of this. I thought public funding increased over the last decade or so.
Students accepted that they will need huge loans to get an education, and institutions invested in more elaborate amenities (sports arenas, rec facilities, apartment-style dorms, huge athletic budgets) to attract the top students and their loan money.
It's been rising more recently though.
2012-2017 had a 15% increase (20% per student), with only 7% cumulative inflation.
Either way, "defunded higher ed" is exaggerated.