Cost and Financing

Late last year, higher-education officials in Indiana got word that they would have to find $150 million in cuts in order to help balance the state’s biennial budget.  What they did — and didn’t do — tells a lot about the commitment in that state to fund higher education in a different way.  As Teresa Lubbers explains, the state’s performance-based funding formula — a relatively small, but not insignificant, portion of the larger formula for postsecondary institutions — was kept intact.

Some may think it’s a gamble, but so far it’s paid off. The new Arkansas Scholarship Lottery is funding college scholarships by the thousands, more than the state was ever able to afford without it. As the recession continues, record numbers of students just out of high school and nontraditional, adult students took the state up on its offer of free tuition and fees. The state received 53,000 applications this year for the college scholarships, compared to 7,000 in 2009.

Community colleges are experiencing record student enrollment while states are cutting their budgets due to large deficits. Enrollment caps are limiting people's access to higher education.

States are using a variety of tactics to get people back to work through retraining programs, most of which are on community college campuses.  Big enrollment increases, couple with state budget cuts, is leaving many colleges in a fiscal crisis.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments opposes any effort to remove or transfer oversight and regulation of the 529 college savings plans from the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board to any other federal entity, including any organization that might be established to provide oversight and regulation of consumer credit.

Early college high schools enable high school students to earn college credit while still enrolled in high school. These programs provide visionary new pathways to postsecondary education, particularly for underrepresented populations.

Suggested State Legislation: This Act addresses conflicts of interest between colleges and representatives of financial entities which lend money to students to attend college. For example, under the Act, a lending institution must prohibit an employee or agent of the lending institution from being identified to borrowers or prospective borrowers as a college or university employee. The Act prohibits lending institution employees from staffing the financial aid or financial call center of colleges and universities. The Act also stipulates how colleges and universities list in their financial aid material institutions which offer financial aid.

Suggested State Legislation: This draft bill combines two Michigan laws enacted in 2009. This legislation permits cities, townships, counties, school districts, or intermediate school districts in areas where the percentage of families with children living at or below the Federal poverty rate is higher than the state average to establish “Promise Zones” to provide financial assistance to postsecondary education to students who graduate from a public or nonpublic high school within that zone. The bill requires the governing bodies of such entities to apply to state department of treasury for approval to establish promise zones.

Suggested State Legislation: This Act requires college textbook publishers to make the price, any substantial content revision between the last two editions, copyright dates, and the variety of formats for a text, available upon request, to faculty members or textbook adopters at public higher education institutions when the publisher provides information about their products. The Act distinguishes between supplemental material and integrated textbooks and requires a publisher to make a textbook and supplemental material available separately when selling the materials bundled together.

Only one-third of students leave high school minimally prepared for college. Consequently, developmental education courses are an important component of student retention efforts. This brief addresses policy implications of retention programs.