Surveying the 2011 Legislative Landscape: Postsecondary Funding

Sep 9, 2011 by Matthew Smith

As this year’s legislative sessions wrap up, we have begun to analyze over 80 new enactments that have implications for college completion. Our first blog covers postsecondary funding, which has become a hot topic as states seek to increase degree attainment in a time of limited resources for higher education. In 2011, many states looked to their funding policies as a lever to drive increased productivity, particularly as it relates to college completion.

Student Success-Based Funding

Twelve legislatures have enacted policies in 2011 related to incentive funding or the creation of performance metrics. While it is important to note how many states are considering a certain course of action, it is more practical to think of how, under what conditions and to what degree states are approaching funding changes. If the states were placed onto a continuum, they would fall into three main categories:

  • Planning: Those legislatures that charge commissions, agencies, or institutions with studying how to base part of the funding formula on student completions.
  • Establishing the Framework: Those legislatures that develop metrics or the outlines of a funding framework, often in prior consultation with the postsecondary system.
  • Implementing the Framework: Those legislatures that, after having developed a framework, articulate how it should be implemented.

State Highlights

Nevada’s Senate Bill 374 creates a committee to consider funding based on course completions and other performance metrics yet to be defined. The legislative intent is to learn from other states’ performance funding experiences.

Texas’s House Bill 9 proposes specific progress and outcome metrics and a more intentional alignment between funding and state strategic goals. The law charges the higher education coordinating board with implementing the metrics and developing a funding framework around them.

Arkansas’s Senate Bill 766 phases in outcomes-based funding over a five-year period until it constitutes 25% of the total appropriation. The component metrics include student retention and transfer rates, number of credentials awarded overall and number of graduates from underserved populations.

Welcoming Your Feedback

If you would like to see us cover a specific policy issue or if you have feedback on postsecondary funding, let us . Stay tuned for more blog posts on 2011 legislative trends! Our next post will cover postsecondary acceleration and early college opportunities.

Following is an embedded table from our policy database detailing 2011 legislative actions on postsecondary funding.

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