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“Outlier” Illinois trying to catch up with other states on equity-based higher ed funding

Tuesday, Jun 22, 2021

* Northern Public Radio

Illinois K-12 education Evidence-Based Funding takes 27 key elements like the number of nurses or low-income students a school has and calculates an adequacy target for each district. Higher-ed institutions in the state have no defined funding formula.

A recently passed bill looks to completely change how higher education is funded, just like what lawmakers did with K-12 schools four years ago. Kyle Westbrook, executive director of the Partnership for College Completion, says this new equity-focused mindset is long overdue.

“We have institutions in our state who are serving significantly high percentages of low-income students, students of color that, frankly, are being inadequately funded to serve the interests of those students.”

That could start to change with the passage of Senate Bill 815. It creates a commission to research equity-based funding strategies and return to the legislature with a report.

The State Board of Higher Education also just released a strategic plan calling for a new funding formula to close graduation and retention gaps among low-income and students of color.

“I think it’s important to first realize that, nationally, Illinois is an outlier in this regard,” said Westbrook, who gave testimony during a committee hearing for the plan. “The vast majority of other states have a true formula for how they appropriate their state funds every year. And Illinois is one of only a few that does not have a defined formula.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 11:44 am:

    No comments?

  2. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 11:59 am:

    === No comments?===

    For me, the higher education structure in Illinois needs a total revamp, as I have commented before, and as I look at how Illinois is an “outlier” to other states or ways of funding, two real reasons come to why… for me.

    First the harder one. You look at other states and how they organize their higher ed and to that funding to the formulas that allow the organization of higher ed to maximize. Funding as Illinois does, or in the first two Rauner years, “arbitrarily” funding, looking at the systems, they are note at the mercy of politics than real policy..,

    … which leads to the second.

    ===And Illinois is one of only a few that does not have a defined formula===

    Looking at how Illinois does it budgeting in an overall, and the leeway (or lack thereof) in the overall, having higher ed “fast and loose” helps with the politics and the massaging, but hurts in recognizing the need for order.

    Also… “And Illinois is one of only a few that does not have a defined formula”… the universities are not organized like other states, as I remind above, so having a uniformed formula in line with other states would seem to be an unreasonable look, like apples and oranges.

  3. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 12:31 pm:

    I’m assuming this means more money for public universities and community colleges that enroll and graduate large numbers of Black, Latinx and first generation students, all of whom need more support and resources than other college students.

    Somehow I don’t think we’ll see any “hold harmless” language, but maybe I’ll be surprised. Since roughly half of college students attend private, nonprofit colleges, including many low income, Black, Latinx and first generation students, maybe the state can find a way to provide resources there too?

    JK. That will never happen.

  4. - Amurica - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 12:43 pm:

    A funding formula is a step in the right direction. However unless the U if I is excluded or some adjustment that does not significantly impact them, it will never happen. HE performance formulas have been talked about for years and never funded. Streamline the higher Ed state agencies should be looked at also. We have one agency for all the K-12 schools but three separate agencies for higher ed.

  5. - City Zen - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 12:57 pm:

    ==Somehow I don’t think we’ll see any “hold harmless” language==

    It’s in the bill:

    Ensuring stable and adequate funding for all institutions and that all universities are held harmless to their current funding level.

  6. - Mugs - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 1:09 pm:

    47th, I’m pretty sure a capital program for private non-profit colleges and universities was included in Rebuild Illinois. Increased MAP funding also is a great help to these institutions.

  7. - Nick - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 1:18 pm:

    OW is right that the entire structure of how we run higher ed in this state needs revamped. Not the least of which is having so many separate public university system, and the fate of struggling campuses like WIU or SIUC.

  8. - Nick - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 1:20 pm:

    Public university systems*

    Which on that point as far as I’m aware most other states tend to have all of their public four-year institutions under a single system.

  9. - City Zen - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 1:53 pm:

    == most other states tend to have all of their public four-year institutions under a single system.==

    Or under two systems. Illinois could adopt a similar structure by putting all state universities under UofI or Illinois State umbrellas. Some states also have their community and technical colleges fall under the state system.

  10. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 2:07 pm:

    Thanks City Zen, but immediately after that line you cited is this line:

    “The Commission may consider and report approaches to and the impact of a hold harmless funding provision for institutions of higher education as part of its final recommendations.”

    So maybe, maybe not. I guess we’ll know when the Commission makes its report.

    To be clear, I’m in favor of this, but we’re talking about potentially a big funding increase to achieve the goals they’ve outlined. I’m skeptical that Illinois is ready to pump significant new revenue into higher education. But I’d love to see this formula become the reality.

    A wise person once told me that a dream without resources is a hallucination.

  11. - Nick - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 2:15 pm:

    ==Or under two systems. Illinois could adopt a similar structure by putting all state universities under UofI or Illinois State umbrellas. Some states also have their community and technical colleges fall under the state system.==

    True. And having two umbrellas under either UoI or ISU feels rather intuitive to me. In either case it seems like a real lost opportunity, and probably a big contributor to financial instability, that smaller schools are on their own rather than attached to a larger state system.

  12. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 3:20 pm:

    I was just telling someone today that it is ABSURD that Illinois’ community colleges rely heavily on property tax revenues. Let’s just take those k-12 inequities and bump them up a level, shall we?

    And why the HECK can’t Illinois figure out a way to make sure that community college graduates move seamlessly to four-year institutions? Other states do it, and the skies don’t fall in.

    And by the way — anybody think the first paragraph is related to the second?

    And 47 — maybe you need to learn how to read a bill. Because City Zen says you’re wrong.

  13. - Soccermom - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 3:23 pm:

    And here’s another thing, 47 — If I’d had the wherewithal to attend one of those fancy private colleges, do you think I would have learned not to start a sentence with “And”?

  14. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 4:19 pm:

    And I’m just a public university graduate Mom, as evidenced by my sub par writing skills.

    And someday I’d love to give you my take on why CC students can’t seamlessly transfer to the public unis. It’s a failure of Will and is as much about money as the quality of education offered by CCs.

    And autocorrect makes my bad writing even worser than it normally would be without that “help.”

  15. - Mugs - Tuesday, Jun 22, 21 @ 7:28 pm:

    Improvements do need to be made in the Illinois Articulation Initiative for fuller transfer of community college credits to public universities. Despite that, Illinois ranks near the top nationally in the percentage of community college transfer students who earn baccalaureate degrees.

    ICCB has a formula to award equalization grants to property-poor community college districts. IBHE has no funding formula at all, which is why the passage of SB 815 and the IBHE strategic plan’s call for an equitable funding formula are so important.

    That community colleges receive property taxes, put referenda on the ballot and have elected trustees creates a direct link with voters that public universities lack. Maybe this is one reason community colleges generally have avoided the mission creep and amenities race to which some public universities have succumbed.

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