Every year since the mid-1990s, Governing magazine has offered speculation on the top legislative issues facing the states.
Higher education rarely makes the list, and most Governing higher ed coverage of late has focused on state budget cuts. But 2014 may be different. The magazine cites a survey by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities finding that 37 states increased FY 2014 operating support for public four-year institutions.
The coverage also warns that stakeholders want the money spent more efficiently. In addition to President Obama’s proposed ratings system tying funding to the value colleges provide students, Governing notes that “more than a dozen states have enacted performance-based funding for public colleges and universities, allocating funds based on graduation rates or other metrics (though most only tie a portion of funding to those measurements).”
The magazine adds: “Given still-tight budgets, states may further examine ways to increase efficiency and help students graduate sooner, such as pushing universities to accept more transfer credits from community colleges” and revisiting the balance between merit-based and need-based student aid.
With national immigration reform mired in a divided Congress, state are also experimenting with bills to serve undocumented immigrants in higher education. Seventeen states now extend in-state tuition at public universities and colleges to undocumented immigrants who graduate from local high schools.