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Performance based funding for higher ed gains steam

Earlier this year, I wrote about legislation that is now in front of the Texas Legislature. The Lone Star State wants to rethink the way it funds higher education. The proposed legislation would create a performance based funding model for the state’s post-secondary institutions. For some institutions, it offers the opportunity to increase state funding. For others, it will be a swift kick in the budget.

As I predicted, other states are also considering a performance based funding model, including one of Michigan’s southerly neighbors, Indiana. The Hoosier State is thinking about tearing up its current higher education funding model in favor of a performance based one.

The Indiana model would reward higher education institutions by providing financial incentives to reach “goals” set by the state. Those that succeed will receive one-time incentive payments Those that do not meet their goals will need to get by on their “base” appropriation.

Like Texas, Indiana’s legislature is considering performance based funding right now. The state budget in Indiana is a two-year affair so the changes may not take effect right away. When they do, however, they could cause financial crises at a number of Indiana’s institutions.

Indiana’s performance based funding (for its two-year schools) is likely to concentrate on completions, completions in specific high-demand fields, on-time graduation and employability of graduates following graduation. Additionally, Indiana hopes to raise the number of residents with college degrees. Right now, only 48% of Indiana residents have college degrees, but the state would like to move that number to 60%. That will require Indiana’s degree-granting institutions to get busy.

Performance based funding could include incentives

Performance based funding for higher education could come to Michigan sooner than you think. With the MichiganReconnect program, the State of Michigan has incentivized former students (and would-be students) with programs to pay for 60 credits of study. It’s essential, however, to incentivize colleges as well.

For too long, Washtenaw Community College has worked hard to eliminate degree programs in favor of non-degree certificates. Not only does this approach shortchange the student, but also it frustrates the state’s goal of getting people in to programs that require 60 credits of study. How long will it be before the State of Michigan decides to punish schools like WCC that have opted for the non-degree certificate route? (There are really only two in the state. Embarrassingly, WCC is one of them.)

How hard will it be for WCC to re-establish the degree programs it worked so hard to get rid of? It would require hiring more full-time faculty; developing new academic programs (The horror!) ; and spending more money on instruction and facilities. It might also require getting rid of some of the dozen Vice Presidents that the WCC administration has installed.

The move toward performance based funding is on, and it’s likely to come to a community college near you soon!

Photo Credit: Marcus Hodges , via Flickr