This post is the last in a series of twelve counting down the top dozen student activism stories that will be making news on the American campus in the new academic year. Follow Student Activism on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all these stories and many more!

When I first conceived this series almost a month ago, I had only a rough idea of which stories would make the cut. It took me about a week to come up with a stack of candidates, and a few more days to cull the list down to twelve. Even after I started writing, I kept messing with the list — bumping some stories up, others down. I even pulled one or two at the last minute to make room for others I’d missed in my first draft.

But there was never any question as to which story was going to take the top slot.

The crisis now facing American public colleges and universities is actually two crises — an ongoing crisis, decades in the making, and an acute crisis now entering its second year.

Public funding for public higher education is disappearing. Tuition and fees are soaring, class sizes are climbing, faculty lines are disappearing. Programs are being slashed. Whole institutions are contemplating abandoning their identity as public colleges and universities.

We are at a crossroads in American public higher education. No story is bigger.