Illinois performance-based funding plan heavy on restricted support
- Inside Higher Ed provides insight into the nuts and bolts of a new performance based funding plan in Illinois, to which trustees at the flagship University of Illinois system have agreed in principle to swap higher in-state enrollment, better graduation and retention rates and more diversity in exchange for stabilized appropriations.
- The baseline $662 million funding, according to Inside Higher Ed, would be earmarked resources for personnel benefits and support of sponsored research and development, and it is still well below the more than $802 million the system received 14 years ago in state support.
- Critics of the plan say that it holds little weight for actual state support, as a major caveat in the plan details that if funding falls below the threshold, schools will not be responsible for meeting the agreed-upon metrics for student access and success.
While the best resource support most state institutions can hope to find in 2016 and beyond is the ability to keep faculty and staff employed, the truth is that Illinois, or any other state that faces budget crisis or legislative impasse, can never be forced to stabilize support for higher education. It will always be a point of lawmaker discretion but can be influenced by the key factors of economic support for communities — and the amount of money that can be attracted from federal resources in support of diversity and achievement gains.
Without knowing the status of federal engagement on higher education support or the subsidies that may be cut or added as a result, it will be difficult for states to outline what kind of funding plans they can expect to make with institutions on the hook for attracting more students and providing better services and outcomes.
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