Pennsylvania higher education bets on funding formula to force more money from legislature | State
(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania State’s higher education system this week approved a new funding formula for its 14 universities, pressuring the General Assembly to grant a landmark funding request made by the system.
If that request is not approved, university leaders say the system cannot work.
The funding formula would allocate 75% of PASSHE funds based on enrollment, with the remaining 25% dedicated to core operations.
“Dollars follow the student in a meaningful and meaningful way,” said Michael Driscoll, president of Indiana University in Pennsylvania, when explaining the formula at the June PASSHE conference. Board of Governors meeting.
Enrollment-based funding is a common way for states to split the dollars, but the PASSHE formula includes an added touch of precariousness.
“With the Commonwealth $477.5 million appropriation – that’s the current level – it’s not working,” Driscoll said. “The formula works well, but the durability of the system – it’s just impossible to achieve.”
In presenting the new allocation formula, it was noted that the current funding could not support 10 universities and would put the sustainability of other universities “in serious jeopardy”.
The board approved the formula unanimously.
“The new format and our large funding request are separate issues,” said PASSHE Director of Media Relations Kevin Hensil. “PASSHE has been preparing to update its funding formula for about two years so that it is primarily enrollment-based. This update to the formula has taken place whether or not the system receives additional support from the State.”
However, even with the proposed $75 million increase that PASSHE wants, the system would still have serious problems.
“It’s really possible that each of the universities can achieve this medium-term financial sustainability, as long as we continue to aggressively manage our enrollment costs and revenues,” Driscoll said.
If these costs are not contained, increased funding may not solve PASSHE’s financial problems.
Driscoll also mentioned the importance of securing an additional $200 million for student aid and one-time funding from US bailout money.
“Life isn’t easy, but at least it’s possible,” he said.
The funding formula was well received.
“This is an extremely thoughtful, well-approved, well-discussed and well-reviewed action that is being presented to the Board of Directors today,” said PASSHE Board of Governors Chair Cindy Shapira.
But the increase is not done.
“So far, I’ve been pretty confident that we in the legislature will … be able to meet the governor’s request,” said Rep. Tim Briggs, D-King of Prussia. “But as we get closer to the end of June, I’m very worried that it won’t happen.”
Briggs called for “continued advocacy” for the funding request.
PASSHE’s push for additional funding was based on their reform efforts. The system has grouped six universities into two to be more efficient, as The Center Square has Previously reported. Yet the system struggles to maintain student numbers. Enrollments have fallen 22% since 2010, and bad financial decisions in the past have created current problems.