State funding remains at the foreground of conversations in higher education, as reflected in a recent brief from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities on the Top 10 Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2015, which include broad topics like state appropriations and performance-based funding, as well as more focused populations for this funding (veterans, undocumented students).
After last year’s report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (Mitchell, Palacios, and Leachman, 2014), Kentucky became one of many states to receive attention for providing higher education state funding below pre-recession levels. From 2013 to 2014, Kentucky’s spending per student increased at a slower rate than most other states—and the incremental increase made (0.3%) was attributed to a drop in enrollment rather than an influx of spending (Spalding, 2014). Previously, the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy reported on existing patterns of state funding: rising tuition, the stagnation of federal assistance, and slow increases to merit-based state funding rather than need-based (Bailey and Konty, 2011).
Combined, these reports reveal a structural system of funding that benefits higher income rather than lower-income students and distributes more aid to traditional full-time students than adult learners (Bailey and Konty). More importantly, the system of funding is in conflict with state-reported goals of supporting these specific underserved populations in both gaining access to, and completing, degree programs in higher education (see Policy Objective 5, “Student Success”).
· What is the role of private and non-profit organizations in funding higher education in Kentucky?
· How will Kentucky educational policy change as a result of funding and initiatives that are not state-supported?
· What programs or initiatives are at work in your institution that address these issues at the intersection of funding and degree completion (for example, adult education initiatives, high-demand degree program initiatives, and/or time to degree completion through competency-based and/or online education)?