West Virginia U could lose 8% of funding under proposed appropriations model
- A new proposal from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission recommends a funding formula for public colleges based on how many state residents they enroll, The Herald-Dispatch reports.
- The proposal calls for public appropriations to be divided into three sections of performance: access, impact and success. Under the plan, 70% of funding would be allotted for institutions with the greatest number of in-state students pursuing credit hours, and 25% for schools which enroll in-state students in high-impact industries like healthcare and engineering. Remaining appropriations would be awarded based upon schools graduating in-state residents on time, which according to the plan is two years for an associate degree and four years for a bachelor's degree.
- Under the proposed formula, West Virginia University would stand to lose more than 8% of its funding based upon 48% of its total student enrollment being comprised of in-state students, the lowest among all state institutions. West Virginia State University's 91% in-state student enrollment is the highest among the state's 11 public institutions and would be one of eight campuses to receive more funding than they received the previous year.
This proposal appears to be a step towards increasing access for West Virginia students. However, West Virginia University Medicine was the state's largest private employer in 2016 and 2017, and as the state struggles to find its financial footing with changing industry, it is hard to imagine that it will financially disrupt one of its largest resources for tax revenue, tourism, outreach and economic and innovation development.
There are examples where a focus on in-state students could work. The University of Texas is a national leader at enrolling in-state students, driven in part by a Texas law requiring the institution to automatically admit students who finish in the top 6% of their graduating classes. But UT officials have publicly said that the rule puts the institution at a disadvantage in recruiting students who graduate just outside of the 6% threshold, finding that these students often attend out-of-state institutions.
Overall, the West Virginia plan is similar to others across the country that are trying to boost access for students (like free community college and flagship expansion into different geographic areas) and reduce costs (such as institutional mergers and consolidations.) However, like the others, it is bursting with potential but short on projections for long-term success.