Gross differences exist in higher ed appropriations

Dive Brief:

  • A new report from the Urban Institute highlights differences in intra-state higher education funding, finding patterns exist mostly around individual institutional characteristics — more so than even broad categorical differences between two-year and four-year or research and teaching-focused.
  • The authors note that 33 states currently allocate as much as 90% of state dollars based on performance metrics, which they say does not have any bearing on an institution's future performance. Instead, they suggest, efforts would be better directed to instructing institutions on how to spend funds, with more emphasis placed on student success initiatives.
  • There is a drastic gap within states between the funding of two-year and four-year institutions, and in 18 states, there is also a significant funding advantage for the best-funded research institution versus the least-funded research institution, highlighting even the differences within the same category. 

Dive Insight:

The study doesn't break out institution type by mission, but lawsuits over equitable funding in states like Maryland and Pennsylvania highlight the historic underfunding of historically black and minority-serving institutions compared to other public colleges and universities in the state. And it has long been reported that community colleges do not receive equal funding. Since these institutions also traditionally have lower tuition rates and most often serve the least advantaged students, gaps are not being filled by tuition or alumni donations.

On one hand, these institutions serve as models for the rest of the industry on how to serve disadvantaged students with limited institutional resources, but on the other, their successes could be magnified and scaled if states allocated money more evenly. 

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Filed Under: Higher Ed Policy & Regulation